High-end audio gear can get quite expensive for the average person. However, that should be expected when you start to enter the enthusiast market. All of that is well and good, but some people might skip over the most basic and essential accessory for any musician: in-ear monitors.
Using in-ear monitors, or IEMs is just like using any pair or earbuds, the actual difference is in the sound quality. Some of them have better or more drivers built-in, which gives them a better sound palette. L
Live singers or instrument players always use in-ear monitors because they are lightweight and don’t get in the way. They can be better than regular over-ear headphones in that sense. You’d be surprised how often in-ear monitors could prove their worth to you.
So we’ll be looking at some of the best in-ear monitors for singers, but we’ll also look at a few wireless options for the average person. With all that said, let’s get started.
Shure is a brand synonymous with making high-end audio equipment for both audiophiles and music professionals alike. The Shure SE425 in-ear monitors follow suit with Shure’s legacy. There’s no doubt about it, these are the best in-ear monitors you will find at this price.
The Shure SE425’s brilliance doesn’t lie in their design or their presentation, it’s the audio quality through and through. You’ll be left with your jaw dropped when you realize how much detail these in-ear monitors can deliver. If you’ve been using throwaway cheap headphones for a while, this is a major step up.
They sound extremely immersive, meaning you don’t even care about the headphones themselves and lose yourself in the track. They have a lot of finesse, and that makes them perfect for vocal recording sessions. However, they don’t sound flat or boring, they can deliver on tight rhythms and punchy beats just as well.
The mid-range is silky smooth, the highs are controlled and crisp, and the bass is quite enjoyable. However, some might want more sub-bass, but these aren’t intended for the bass-heads. The only real drawback I can think of is the design. The cable is of good quality and it’s removable, and the IEMs fit comfortably in the ear. It’s just that they don’t look exciting and no one is going to notice you are wearing high-end headphones.
The first thing that immediately jumps out to me about the ATH E70 from Audio-Technica is just how lightweight and comfortable they are. Audio-Technica lists them as just 9g, which is without the cable of course, but even if you were to measure the cable, they’d still be pretty lightweight. The cable is also detachable so it should be easy to replace.
The design is simple and gets the job done. It’s not the fanciest looking gem out there, but the small see-through window which allows you to see the circuit board is a nice touch. The memory wire for the cable is wrapped around by a flexible soft transparent shrink tube. Overall, this in-ear monitor is built quite well.
The best thing about the sound quality in these headphones is the low-end response. It’s tight, controlled, and packs a heavy punch. Bass lovers are going to have a good time here. It never overpowers either. The mid-range is crisp and buttery smooth. The highs are bright and easy to listen to, and they never quite cause fatigue.
However, the treble can be inconsistent at times. The lower-end of the treble isn’t controlled well, and hence the highs can jump around a bit. If this were better controlled, I’d say this provided to the dynamic experience, but it could be a hindrance to some. Still, the overall sound quality is miles better than your average headphones.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 might not be aimed at the professional studio in-ear monitor market, but they might leave you a bit surprised. Truly wireless earbuds are known more for their convenience and ease of use than their sound quality, but Sony has outdone themselves with this gem.
They look the part, that goes without saying. The black and copper color scheme can be found in both the case and the earbuds themselves. This is quite unique and adds to the aesthetic. They are lightweight and while the shape gets a bit getting used to, they are quite comfortable. Battery life lasts all day thanks to the case.
They pair like any other wireless earbuds. Take them out of the case and they’ll automatically connect to your device of choice. Sound quality is dynamic, detailed, and extremely fun to listen to. The sound reproduction is authentic and believable, and the overall signature is quite natural. While they’d take a bit of tinkering to set up in a live performance, these could prove to be great for that because of the added wireless functionality.
However, they can get a bit pricey, and if you don’t need the convenience of wireless earbuds, the value is something to consider. The mic quality isn’t the best either.
1More isn’t a name that many people are familiar with. However, just search earbuds on in-ear headphones on Amazon, and you’ll that a lot of 1More headphones have great reviews and find themselves at the top. The quality of the packaging, the IEMs themselves, and the sound quality are surprising, to say the least.
The box makes a strong first impression. It opens up like a book and has a magnetic flap. The headphones themselves rest inside, along with a headphone adapter, a small shirt clip, a plethora of different ear tips, and a carrying pouch. The earbuds themselves are made out of aluminum alloy, with either silver or rose gold accents. The sandblasted look is a nice touch.
The wire is also very strong, and it is made out of Kevlar fiber. The sound quality is a bit on the warmer side, and it is quite enjoyable. Detail and separation are both excellent. Bass is precise and has a good kick to it. Vocals sound crystal clear and are pleasing to the ear. The treble and midrange are balanced accordingly, and overall this is great sound quality for this price.
For musicians on a budget, this could also work well as IEMs for professional work. You might get even higher fidelity elsewhere, but not at this price.
Beats By Dre is decidedly a prominent part of Apple at this point. It’s no surprise that iPhones help sell Beats, which is why you see a lot of them out there. To some, they might be overrated, but for once we all just might agree that these Powerbeats Pro are a huge exception.
Like AirPods, these are completely wireless earbuds that charge via the case. The case here is big and bulky, and not pocketable. It is built quite well though and has magnets inside to safely place the earbuds themselves. The earbuds are available in four colors: Black, Ivory, Moss, and Navy. They have an ear hook so they stay in your ear.
Speaking of which, they are incredibly comfortable to wear, and you won’t notice them during vigorous workout sessions. The sound quality is what surprised us the most. Of course, they are a bit bass-heavy as you’d expect from Beats but they have gotten better at this. The midrange and treble don’t sound muddy anymore, and the overall sound quality is quite rich and enjoyable to listen to.
Add in long battery life, Siri implementation, and of course, the brand identity, and you’ve got yourself a pair of great selling earbuds. The price still has that usual Apple premium attached to it, and there isn’t any wireless charging. Apart from that, these are great earbuds for athletes and fitness lovers.