Best In Ear Monitors: The Ultimate Guide

best in-Ear Monitors

For audio enthusiasts, musicians, and sound engineers, the quest for the best in-ear monitors is never-ending. But with countless great options flooding the market, pinpointing the ideal fit can be daunting. So in this guide, we’ve curated a list of the top 10 in-ear monitors to streamline your search.


Choosing the paramount in-ear monitor is vital for impeccable sound experience. The Shure SE846 consistently dominates, notably for on-stage performances. For those mindful of cost, the FiiO FH7 stands out. Nevertheless, the precise audio application, whether studio or live, remains pivotal in the final selection.

10 Best In Ear Monitors Comparison

Shure SE846: Best for Professional On-Stage Performances

Shure SE846


The Shure SE846 stands out as a powerhouse in the realm of professional in-ear monitors. Specifically designed with the rigors of on-stage performances in mind, these IEMs deliver crystal-clear sound and impeccable noise isolation, ensuring artists hear every nuance of their performance without external interruptions.


  • Driver Configuration: Quad High-Definition MicroDrivers
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 114 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 9 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 37 dB

What you might like:

The SE846 boasts an adjustable sound signature, allowing users to tweak the bass response to their preference. The robust build and detachable cable system ensure longevity and ease of maintenance. Moreover, the included variety of ear tips guarantees a comfortable and secure fit, vital for extended stage use.

What you might consider:

While these Shure IEMs shine in their performance, they come at a premium price point. For those not requiring stage ear monitors for professional use, there might be other options that deliver great sound at a more affordable rate, including universal IEMs. Additionally, the weight might feel a bit heavier compared to other IEMs, which could be an adjustment for some users.


The Shure SE846 is a top-tier choice for those seeking professional in-ear monitors for on-stage applications. Its combination of sound clarity, customization, and durability makes it an investment worth considering for serious performers.

Westone W80: Premium Audiophile Experience

Westone W80


For those in pursuit of the ultimate listening experience, the Westone W80 emerges as an epitome of audiophile-grade in-ear monitors. Crafted meticulously, these IEMs are engineered to reproduce music in its most authentic and detailed form, making them one of the best in-ear monitors available in the market.


  • Driver Configuration: 8 balanced-armature drivers per earpiece
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 22kHz
  • Sensitivity: 111 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 5 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 35 dB

What you might like:

The W80’s multi-driver setup ensures a broad soundstage and impeccable instrument separation. The overall sound is rich, with deep lows, clear mids, and sparkling high frequencies. They come bundled with a braided silver cable and a Bluetooth cable, allowing for both wired and wireless listening experiences. Their ergonomic lightweight design and the inclusion of various ear tips ensure a snug fit, enhancing the listening experience for accurate sound. Additionally, users will appreciate the convenience of a carry case for easy storage and transport of the earphones.

What you might consider:

The luxury of the Westone W80 comes at a hefty price. While they offer great sound quality, they might be overkill for casual listeners or those on a tight budget. The premium materials also necessitate careful handling to prevent wear and tear.


For audiophiles seeking nothing but the best in sound reproduction and build quality, the Westone W80 is a dream come true. They are a significant investment, but for those who prioritize excellent sound quality above all else, they’re worth every penny.

64 Audio A12t: Studio Precision with 12 Drivers

64 Audio A12t


The 64 Audio A12t is a marvel in the world of custom in-ear studio monitors. Designed for the meticulous ears of audio engineers and producers, these IEMs, packed with 12 drivers, deliver unparalleled accuracy, making them one of the best IEMs for monitoring.


  • Driver Configuration: 12 balanced-armature drivers per earpiece
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 108 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 12.6 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 36 dB

What you might like:

The A12t’s expansive soundstage, detailed highs, rich mids, and controlled bass ensure that every nuance of a track is captured. Their apex technology reduces ear fatigue during prolonged sessions. The customized design, coupled with a variety of ear tips, and carrying case promises a comfortable and secure fit.

What you might consider:

Given their studio-grade precision, the A12t comes with a premium price tag. They’re optimized for studio monitoring, so casual listeners might not fully utilize their potential. Additionally, their intricate sound signature might be overwhelming for some.


For professionals seeking the pinnacle of studio monitoring, the 64 Audio A12t stands out. They represent an investment in precision and quality, ensuring that every detail in audio production is heard with clarity.

Etymotic ER4XR: Unparalleled Sound Isolation

Etymotic ER4XR


The Etymotic ER4XR is a testament to what in-ear monitors should aspire to, especially when it comes to sound isolation. These IEMs are meticulously engineered to provide listeners with an immersive audio experience, free from external ambient noise, making them a favorite among discerning audiophiles.


  • Driver Configuration: Single high-performance balanced-armature driver
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 16kHz
  • Sensitivity: 98 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 45 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 42 dB

What you might like:

The ER4XR shines in its ability to block out external noise, providing an intimate listening session. The sound profile is accurate and balanced, delivering crisp highs, clear mids, and a robust low end. Their slim design ensures a comfortable fit, even during prolonged use.

What you might consider:

While they offer superior noise isolation, some users might find the deep insertion design a bit intrusive. Moreover, the single driver, though high-performing, might not satisfy those looking for multi-driver configurations.


The Etymotic ER4XR is a top pick for those prioritizing sound isolation in their in-ear monitors. They offer a pure and detailed sound reproduction, ensuring a listening experience that’s both intimate and true to the source.

Sennheiser IE 800 S: Deep Bass and Crisp Treble

Sennheiser IE 800 S


The Sennheiser IE 800 S is a masterstroke in the realm of ear monitors. With its signature Sennheiser sound, these IEMs promise an audio experience that’s both profound in its bass and sparkling in its treble, delivering a sound profile that’s as immersive as it is precise.


  • Driver Configuration: Single XWB (Extra Wide Band) dynamic driver
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 46.5kHz
  • Sensitivity: 125 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 16 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 26 dB

What you might like:

The IE 800 S boasts an exceptional wide frequency range, ensuring deep lows and shimmering highs. Its ergonomic design, coupled with Comply foam ear tips, offers comfort and a secure fit. The ceramic housing not only looks premium but also enhances acoustic properties.

What you might consider:

The IE 800 S, while outstanding in performance, carries a premium price tag. The unique cable design, though durable, might not be to everyone’s liking, especially for those used to more standard configurations.


For those seeking a blend of deep bass and crisp treble in their ear monitors, the Sennheiser IE 800 S stands out as an elite choice, offering an unmatched listening experience for the discerning audiophile.

FiiO FH7: High-Res Audio on a Budget

FiiO FH7


The FiiO FH7 offers a refreshing take on what good in-ear monitors can achieve, even on a budget. FiiO has managed to pack high-resolution audio capabilities into an affordable package, making premium sound accessible to a broader audience.


  • Driver Configuration: 1 dynamic driver + 4 balanced-armature drivers
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz
  • Sensitivity: 111 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 16 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 30 dB

What you might like:

The FH7 impresses with its hybrid driver setup, delivering robust bass, clear mids, and detailed highs. Its aluminum-magnesium alloy body ensures durability, while the detachable cable system adds to its longevity. The inclusion of various ear tips ensures a custom fit for enhanced comfort.

What you might consider:

While they offer fantastic value, the FH7’s design might be a bit bulkier for some users. The sound signature, though well-balanced, might lean towards being bass-heavy, which may not be ideal for those seeking a flatter profile.


For those on the hunt for good custom IEMs that don’t break the bank, the FiiO FH7 is a stellar pick. It’s a testament to the fact that high-res audio and affordability can coexist seamlessly.

Campfire Audio Andromeda: Distinctive Design with Expansive Soundstage

Campfire Audio Andromeda


The Campfire Audio Andromeda stands as a beacon among the best in-ear monitors, combining a visually arresting design with an auditory experience that’s both vast and detailed. Every facet of the Andromeda is a testament to Campfire’s commitment to excellence and innovation.


  • Driver Configuration: 5 balanced-armature drivers per earpiece
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 28kHz
  • Sensitivity: 112.8 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 12.8 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 32 dB

What you might like:

The Andromeda’s soundstage is expansive, allowing for precise instrument placement and depth. Its sound signature is balanced, ensuring that tracks are presented authentically. The distinctive green anodized aluminum body is not only eye-catching but also ensures durability. The tangle-free cable and variety of ear tips enhance the user experience further.

What you might consider:

The premium nature of the Andromeda means it comes with a steep price tag. Its distinctive design, while unique, might not appeal to everyone, especially those who prefer a more understated look.


For those in pursuit of the best in-ear monitors that blend aesthetics with top-tier audio performance, the Campfire Audio Andromeda is hard to surpass. It’s an investment in unmatched quality and design prowess.

Audio-Technica ATH-E70: Reliable Choice for Mix Engineers

Audio-Technica ATH-E70


Audio-Technica’s ATH-E70 stands tall as a premier in-ear monitor tailored for mix engineers and producers. Renowned for its accuracy and clarity, this IEM is a testament to Audio-Technica’s commitment to delivering professional-grade audio tools.


  • Driver Configuration: 3 balanced-armature drivers per earpiece
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 19kHz
  • Sensitivity: 109 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 39 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 29 dB

What you might like:

The ATH-E70 excels in delivering a balanced sound profile, ensuring the frequency spectrum is well-represented. Its design prioritizes comfort, with flexible memory cables that loop over the larger or smaller ears for a perfect fit. The detachable cable design adds to its longevity and ease of maintenance. It’s a reliable tool for critical listening and audio mixing sessions, providing all the good stuff you need for an exceptional audio experience.

What you might consider:

While the ATH-E70 is a boon for mix engineers, casual listeners might find its sound signature a bit too flat. Additionally, the over-the-ear cable design, though secure, may take some getting used to for first-time users.


For mix engineers in search of a trustworthy in-ear monitor that doesn’t compromise on clarity or detail, the Audio Technica ATH-E70 is a sound choice. It’s built for precision and long-lasting performance.

Sony IER-M9: Balanced Audio Across All Frequencies

Sony IER-M9


Sony’s IER-M9 is a testament to the brand’s legacy in delivering top-notch audio. As one of the best IEMs in their lineup, the IER-M9 offers a harmonious balance across all frequencies, ensuring an immersive listening experience no matter the genre.


  • Driver Configuration: 5 balanced-armature drivers per earpiece
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz
  • Sensitivity: 103 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 20 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 26 dB

What you might like:

The IER-M9 shines with its precise audio reproduction, ensuring lows, mids, and highs are all equally represented. Its magnesium alloy inner housing reduces unwanted vibrations, enhancing clarity. The ergonomic design ensures a snug fit, and the braided cable not only looks premium but also resists tangling.

What you might consider:

While the IER-M9 delivers outstanding performance, it comes at a notable cost. Its balanced sound might not cater to those who prefer a bass-heavy or treble-forward signature.


For audiophiles seeking one of the best IEMs that delivers a consistent and balanced audio profile across all music genres, the Sony IER-M9 is a worthy contender. It’s an investment in pristine audio quality and Sony’s renowned craftsmanship.

Empire Ears Odin: Ultimate in Sound Clarity and Precision

Empire Ears Odin

Empire Ears

The Empire Ears Odin stands at the pinnacle of IEM engineering, offering an unparalleled blend of sound clarity and precision. A product of meticulous craftsmanship, the Odin is designed for those who seek nothing but the best in their audio gear.


  • Driver Configuration: 11 proprietary balanced-armature drivers per earpiece
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 50kHz
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 3 Ω
  • Noise Isolation: Up to 28 dB

What you might like:

The Odin boasts a broad soundstage with impeccable instrument separation. Its sound signature is transparent and detailed, capturing every nuance in a track. The premium build, coupled with its unique design, reflects the quality of its audio output. The secure fit ensures comfort even during extended listening sessions.

What you might consider:

The Odin, while unmatched in its performance, comes with a premium price tag that might be beyond the reach of many. Its sophisticated sound signature might be too intricate for casual listeners or those new to high end IEMs.


For the discerning audiophile who desires the zenith of sound clarity and precision, the Empire Ears Odin is an unrivaled choice. It’s an investment in pure, unadulterated audio excellence.

A Comprehensive Guide to In-Ear Monitors

Understanding In-Ear Monitors

What Are They?

In-ear monitors (often abbreviated as IEMs) are a type of earphone designed to fit snugly inside the ear canal. Unlike regular earbuds, IEMs offer a more isolated listening experience by blocking out external ambient sounds.

Primary Function

The primary function of in-ear monitors is to provide the listener with clear and detailed sound. Whether you’re an audiophile, a professional musician, or just someone who appreciates good sound, IEMs ensure you hear every nuance of the audio.

Why Use Them?

In-ear monitors are not just for music lovers. Musicians and sound engineers often use them on stage or in studios to hear a mix of vocals and instrumentals clearly. This precise sound delivery helps in making real-time adjustments to performances or mixes.

In essence, whether you’re diving deep into your favorite tracks or fine-tuning a live performance, in-ear monitors offer a superior audio experience.

Why Choose Professional In-Ear Monitors?

Sound Precision

Professional in-ear monitors are engineered to deliver the utmost sound precision. They reproduce audio with clarity, ensuring that every detail, from the subtlest note to the most intricate beat, is heard.

Live Performances

For live musicians and performers, the best in-ear monitors are invaluable on stage. They allow artists to hear their own sound amidst the chaos of live music, helping them stay in tune and sync with the band.

Live Performances

Studio Recording

In the studio, these monitors are crucial for sound engineers and artists alike. They ensure that what’s being recorded is of the highest quality, free from external disturbances.

Studio Recording

Durability and Design

Built to meet the demands of professionals, these IEMs often boast robust construction, ensuring they last longer. Their design also provides superior comfort, essential for extended sessions.

In a nutshell, if sound quality and reliability are paramount, professional in-ear monitors are the way to go. They’re an investment in impeccable audio delivery.

Stage Use vs. Studio Use: Choosing the Right IEMs

Stage Ear Monitors

Designed for live performances, stage ear monitors prioritize durability and sound isolation. Given the cacophony of live events, these IEMs ensure artists hear their own performance clearly. They often come with features like adjustable bass response to cater to varying stage setups and acoustics.

Stage Ear Monitors

In-Ear Studio Monitors

Tailored for recording and mixing, in-ear studio monitors emphasize sound accuracy. They reproduce sound without coloration, ensuring what’s heard is true to the source. This makes them the best IEMs for monitoring during recording sessions, where precision is paramount.

Making the Choice

While there’s overlap in functionality, your primary use dictates the best pick. If you’re a live performer, stage ear monitors are essential. However, for studio work, where sound fidelity reigns supreme, studio-centric IEMs are the preferred choice. Always consider your primary need to make an informed decision.

Key Features to Consider in IEMs

Driver Count

The number of drivers in an IEM affects its sound quality. While single-driver IEM systems can deliver good sound, multi-driver units like the best 3 driver in-ear monitors provide a richer audio experience by separating bass, mids, and highs for clearer output.

Sound Isolation

A critical feature for any IEM, sound isolation ensures that external noises don’t interfere with your listening. The better the isolation, the purer and more immersive the audio experience.

Frequency Response

This determines the range of sounds the IEM can reproduce. A wider frequency response ensures you hear the entire frequency range, from the deepest lows and the crispest highs in your audio.

Headphone frequency response curve
Fit and Comfort

A good fit is essential for sound quality and comfort. IEMs that fit well provide better sound isolation and are comfortable to wear for long periods.

In essence, when choosing IEMs, it’s crucial to weigh these features to find the perfect match for your needs.

Budget and Value in IEMs

Price Spectrum

IEMs come in a wide price range, from the best budget-friendly options to high-end audiophile-grade models. Your budget determines where you land on this spectrum.

Budget-Friendly Picks

While affordable, many good in-ear monitors still offer decent sound quality and essential features. They’re suitable for casual listening and might not have the intricate sound details of pricier models.

Mid-Range Mastery

This bracket offers a balance between cost and quality. Here, you’ll find some of the best IEMs that deliver superior sound, better build quality, and additional features, all without breaking the bank.

Premium Performance

Top end IEMs come with a premium price tag but offer unmatched sound clarity, build, and advanced useful features. They’re designed for audiophiles and professionals who won’t compromise on quality.

In essence, while budget dictates your best options, it’s essential to find the best value within your price range to ensure a satisfying auditory experience.

IEMs for Vocalists and Band Members

Vocalist’s Voice

For singers, clarity is paramount. Good in-ear monitors for singers emphasize the mid-range frequencies, ensuring vocals stand out crisply without being drowned by instruments.

Band Dynamics

For an entire band, the best in-ear monitor system offers a balanced sound profile, ensuring each instrument is distinctly heard. This balance is crucial during live use to maintain harmony among the band members.

Band Dynamics

Customization Counts

Many IEMs offer customizable sound profiles, allowing band members to tweak the audio based on their instrument or vocal range. This ensures each member hears exactly what they need to.

Durability and Design

Given the rigors of touring and frequent performances, durability becomes essential. Bands should invest in IEMs designed to withstand regular use and potential stage mishaps.

In summary, while individual needs may vary, singers and bands should prioritize clarity, balance, and durability when selecting IEMs to ensure optimal performance on and off the stage.

Frequently Asked Questions about In-Ear Monitors

Do professional musicians use in-ear monitors?

Yes, many professional musicians use in-ear monitors (IEMs) during live performances, studio recordings, and rehearsals to hear a clear mix of their music without external noises.

Why do pros use IEMs?

Pros use IEMs to get a precise audio mix, enabling them to hear their performance and other band members clearly. IEMs also protect their ears from the loud background noises (like audience noise) of live stages, reducing the risk of hearing damage.

What in-ears does Taylor Swift use?

Taylor Swift has been seen using custom in-ear monitors made by companies like JH Audio and Westone during her live performances. The specific model might change based on her preferences and tour requirements.

What do professional singers wear in their ears?

Professional singers wear in-ear monitors, which allow them to hear their voice, the band, or backing tracks clearly during live performances.

Why do singers remove in-ear monitors?

Singers might remove one or both in-ear monitors if they feel disconnected from the audience or if they want to hear the live ambiance better. It can also be due to discomfort or technical issues.

Are in-ear monitors better?

In-ear monitors provide better sound isolation, clarity, and protection from loud external noises compared to traditional onstage monitors. Whether they are “better” depends on the specific requirements and preferences of the user.

What are the disadvantages of in-ear monitors?

Disadvantages of IEMs include potential discomfort with prolonged use, a feeling of disconnection from the live ambiance, and the risk of ear damage if used at much higher volumes.

Why is IEM so expensive?

High-quality IEMs are expensive due to the advanced technology, multiple drivers, custom molds, high-grade materials, and precision engineering involved in their production.

Are expensive in-ear monitors worth it?

For professionals and audiophiles who prioritize sound quality, clarity, and isolation, expensive IEMs are often worth the investment. However, the value is subjective and depends on individual preferences and usage.

How much do good IEMs cost?

The cost of good IEMs can range widely, from under $100 for decent entry-level models to several thousand dollars for top-tier professional and audiophile-grade monitors.

Which are the best IEMs?

The “best” IEMs depend on individual needs and preferences. Brands like Shure, Westone, 64 Audio, and JH Audio are among the top names known for producing high-quality IEMs.

Why do audiophiles like IEMs?

Audiophiles appreciate IEMs for their ability to deliver high-fidelity sound, precise audio reproduction, and excellent sound isolation, allowing them to experience music in its purest form.

Final Notes

IEMs have revolutionized the way we experience music, providing unparalleled sound clarity and isolation, whether you’re on stage or on the go.

From budget-friendly to high-end, there’s an IEM for every pocket. Investing wisely ensures an auditory experience that’s worth every penny.

Whether you’re a budding musician, a seasoned pro, or an avid music lover, selecting the right IEM can elevate your listening experience to new heights.

In conclusion, the world of IEMs is vast and varied. Dive in, explore, and find your perfect sonic match.