Best In Ear Monitors (IEMs) Under $99

Best In Ear Monitors (IEMs)/Isolating Earbuds Under 99

 In ear monitors have really changed the game for singers, musicians, and live performers. Instead of having multiple wedge monitors taking up valuable stage space, you can have one set of in-ear monitors. I was skeptical myself when making the transition between stage monitors and IEMs. It seemed like it was going to involve a huge learning curve and would take alot of getting used to.

Best In Ear Monitors Under 99

 However, I was pleasantly surprised the first time I used my new IEM’s. After a little bit of adjustment to my personal in ear mix I was using them exclusively, week after week. I credit our brilliant sound engineer and the product’s very easy to use App for making the experience very rewarding.

I’ve been using the same set of IEMs for over three years now, and it’s very hard to imagine ever going back to regular stage wedges. In fact, when purchasing the new IEMs our sound engineer also bought two 1500 watt powered stage monitors to help ease the transition. The funny part is, we really didn’t need those new wedges, we have been using the IEMs exclusively ever since.

Audio-Technica ATH-E40 Professional In-Ear Monitor Headphones

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So, in the interest of helping others discover the benefits of this in ear technology I’ve created this product Roundup of the top In Ear Monitors under $99. I’ve included customer reviews from multiple retail sites to help you get a fair and unbiased overview. I’ve also included my own review of the brand that I own.

   I hope it helps you to feel more confident in your decision to try In Ear Monitors. I’ll include the set thats that I have used and the best rated IEMs on the web. If you find this Roundup valuable I encourage you to subscribe at AxeDr.com, it would mean alot.

IEM stands for In Ear Monitors. In short, they are fancy sound isolating earbuds developed for singers and live musicians. They are a relatively new technology designed to block stage noise while providing excellent sound quality.

Etymotic Research MK5 Isolator Low Profile Noise-Isolating In-Ear Earphones

Isolating Earbuds

VS.

Shure SE846-CL Sound Isolating Earphones with Quad High Definition MicroDrivers and True Subwoofer

In Ear Monitors

Audio-Technica ATH-E40 Professional In-Ear Monitor HeadphonesDTIrl0&bids=490021DTIrl0&bids=490021

My Rating
4.5/5

Audio-Technica ATH-E40 Professional In-Ear Monitor Headphones

Full disclosure here; These are the set of IEMs that I currently own and use regularly. I have been incredibly happy with these In Ear Monitors. I play lead guitar for our Worship Team at Obi Community Church. I’ve used them five times a week for the last three years, and they never once let me down.

   Our entire team uses these every week, and not once have we had a pair short a wire or blow the drivers(micro speakers inside of IEMs). These are the only Headphones/Earbuds/IEM’s I’ve had over the years that haven’t failed via a broken wire or other failure. I even use them for practicing at home when I’m not using them at a live venue.

The sound quality is incredibly bright, having absolute clarity.

   The only reason I didn’t give them a full five stars instead of 4.5 is because they could use a TINY bit more punch in the lower end frequencies. However, if you have any experience with IEMs you’ll know that this is very common, especially in single driver IEMs. Drums and Bass Guitar still sound very very good in these. I can’t imagine going back to wedge monitors after using these, it’s just so much better having IEMs.

   These things are actually quite comfortable as well. I’ll practice for hours without discomfort. I’m constantly surprised at their durability as well. I’ve accidentally had feedback at ridiculous, ear bleeding volumes and was certain I’d just blown the drivers. But no, they were totally fine, sounding just as good as the day I got them.

I encourage you to try these IEMs. I would most certainly buy them again.

Audio-Technica ATH-E50 Professional In-Ear Monitor Headphones

Audio Technica ATH-E50

Audio-Technica ATH-E70 Professional In-Ear Studio Monitor Headphones

Audio Technica ATH-E70

Average Customer Rating:

4/5

What is the rest of the internet saying?

   As usual, I scoured the old interweb for reviews and ratings from reputable sites. Here’s what I uncovered. Guess I’m not alone in my high opinion of these.

Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 Audio Technica ATHe40 (7)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 Audio Technica ATHe40 (2)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 Audio Technica ATHe40 (3)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 Audio Technica ATHe40 (4.0)

  These seem to be the most popular IEMs for a small budget, though I’m not convinced it’s because they are the best product. It’s probably more popular just because of the Shure brand name being so recognizeable. I mean, when you are shopping, are you more likely to click on the Westone product or Shure product? If you are like me, you probably would click on the Shure IEMs first.

   Perhaps you are the type of person that likes to go with the “underdog”. If so, the Shures are not the choice for you. Try the Audio Technica or FiiO F9 Triple Driver IEMs. I’m rather intrigued by the triple driver FiiO F9, might even buy them.

Side Note:  A few of my fellow team members made the choice to switch over to these in particular for Drums and Bass Guitar. Our Sound Engineer suggested they might handle the the lower frequencies better than the alternatives.

Average Customer Rating:

4/5
  • Evolved from personal monitor technology that’s been road-tested by pro musicians, the SE215 offers detailed sound with enhanced bass for personal listening or professional monitoring.
  • Comfortable sound isolating sleeves block up to 37 dB of ambient noise. Sound isolation technology prevents outside noise from interfering with your listening experience, whether on-stage or on-the-go.
  • Lightweight, low-profile shape with optimized nozzle angle is designed to rest comfortably in the ear.

Shure Sound Isolating Triple Driver Earphone with Detachable Cable - Clear (SE535-CL) Triple Flange Sleeves for Compatible Earphones

Triple Driver Version

Shure SE846-CL Sound Isolating Earphones with Quad High Definition MicroDrivers and True Subwoofer

Quad (4) Micro Drivers w/ True Subwoofer

  • Durable reinforced cable allows easy replacement or customization. Formable wire ensures secure placement, and over-the-ear configuration keeps cables out of the way. Gold plated MMCX Connector has a lock-snap mechanism allowing 360-degree rotation for comfortable fit.
  • Fit Kit includes three sizes (S, M, L) of the flex and black foam sleeves. Experiment with the size and style that creates the best fit for you. A good seal is key to optimizing sound isolation and bass response as well as maximizing comfort during extended wear.
  • A soft-zip, compact carrying case is included to provide a convenient, tangle-free solution to store and travel with your earphones.
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 Shure SE215 (4)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 Shure SE215 (5)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 Shure SE215 (3)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 Shure SE215 (2)

Fiio F9 SE Dynamic Hybrid Earphone (Black) …

Up until recently I had not heard of FiiO products. There are alot of “off-brand” or Chinese Rip-Off brands in the Earbud/Earphone market, I honestly just assumed FiiO to be one of those brands. However, after reading alot of enthusiastic reviews and ratings from confirmed buyers of FiiO IEMs I’m starting to change my mind.

Why these made the list:

  1. Triple Drivers
  2. Half the price.
  3. Excellent User Ratings

   Anyone who has shopped in the IEM market knows that dual driver and triple driver IEMs are well above the 2 digit price range. In fact triple driver IEMs that you’ll find from musicians friend.com or sweetwater.com are generally mid 3 digit price range. (Shure, Westone, & Audio Technica). So yeah, FiiO is definitely the underdog here, but they are apparently making IEMs that compete with the big dogs

Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 FiiO f9(13)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 FiiO f9(12)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 FiiO F9 (10)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 FiiO f9

Average Customer Rating:

4/5

Specs:

1 Dynamic Driver & 2 Balanced Armatures for Triple helpings of rich sound

  • The F9SE utilizes a hybrid design in which each channel is composed of one dynamic and two balanced armature (BA) drivers. The 9.2mm dynamic driver is specifically tuned to produce bottomless lows while the two BA drivers precisely portray extended upper-mids and highs.

PEK polymer nanocomposite driver for heightened detail

  • The F9 utilizes a dynamic driver made of PEK (polyether ketone) polymer nanocomposite, known for not only being tough but also being light. This allows the F9’s dynamic driver to be highly capable of producing quick, detailed, and extended bass.

Scientifically Tuned based on Physics and Psychoacoustics

    • We achieved maximum performance from the F9’s drivers by looking to the laws and principles of physics and psychoacoustics when designing our product. By doing so, the drivers are able to work in perfect harmony to achieve a cohesive sound that is absolutely able to reproduce every part of the sound frequency spectrum – allowing for a frequency response from 15 Hz to 40 kHz.

 

FiiO F9 PRO Best Over The Ear Headphones/Earphones/Earbuds Detachable Cable Design Triple Driver Hybrid (1 Dynamic + 2 Knowles BA) in-Ear Monitors with Android Compatible Mic and Remote (Titanium) ...

FiiO F9 Pro Version

FiiO FH7 5-Drive (1DD + 4BAs) Hybrid in-Ear Earphones/Headphones with DIY Sound Filters,High Fidelity for Smartphones/PC/Tablet (Black)

FiiO FH7 Version

SIMGOT EM2 High-Res in-Ear Monitor Headphones with Hybrid Balanced Armature Driver, Noise-Isolating Musician Headset with Detachable Cable, Professional IEM Earphones with HiFi Stereo Earbuds(Black)

Dual Drivers & Well-Balanced Sound:

The EM2 is a hybrid IEM, with 1x dynamic driver 1x balanced high-definition driver exclusively devoted to a well balanced and pure sound in high, midsand low frequency. The extension in high frequency is good, delicate and supple, the low frequency is moderate. Full of vocals and oustanding sonic clarity.

Braided 2Pin Detachable Cable:

The EM2 earphone adopts silver-plate free copper low impedance braided detachable wire, which ensuring the perfect transmission of the audio signal and greatly reduces the possibility of wire oxidation. It durability for long-term use, and look or feel premium. Soft cable material also have a good handling in use without worry be curled afterwards.

Great Noise Isolation:

They offer decent noise isolation that can block outside noise, you can enjoy to your music clearly even in noisy environments. The wrap around ear hook design gives a secure fit making it perfect companion for running, jogging or the gym.

Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 SIMGOT (15)
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 SIMGOT
Best In Ear Headphones Under $100 SIMGOT 2

Average Customer Rating:

4/5

Specs:

  • Impedance: 10Ω
  • Headphone Sensitivity: 101dB
  • Frequency Response Range: 15Hz-40kHz
  • Power Rating: 15mW with 3.5mm Straight Plug
  • Distortion Degree: <1% 101 dB
  • Channel Balance: <1.5 dB (at 1000Hz)
  • Detachable Cable: 0.78mm 2pin Silver-Plated Copper cable
  • Vocalism Principle: Double Dynamic Driver
  • Headphones category: HIFI,Hi-Res, Monitor

SIMGOT EM2 High-Res in-Ear Monitor Headphones with Hybrid Balanced Armature Driver, Noise-Isolating Musician Headset with Detachable Cable, Professional IEM Earphones with HiFi Stereo Earbuds(Clear)

SIMGOT EK3 in-Ear Monitor Headphones with Four Tuning Models, Design HiFi Hybrid Triple Balanced Armature Driver(3 Knowles BA), 3D Printed Resin Cavity, IEM Earphones with Detachable Cable (Black)

SIGMOT EK3 Version

Conclusion:

There are alot of great options for budget IEMs today. Our team also uses Presonus Headphone Amplifiers to hook our IEMs into the PA system. Chances are, no matter what you ultimately decide, you’ll find that these little pieces of sound tech can really enrich your live sound experiences. They allow you to take control of your dynamics much better than with standard wedge monitors. I’ll leave you with a few tips that I’ve learned over the past few years in terms of getting the most out of your IEMs.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that make all the difference for a very good mix.

1. Pan everything in your mix to the Left and Right.

This increases sound quality times ten. Divide the various instruments and voices.

Ex 1: Drums L pan 100% Left, Drums R pan 100% Right

Ex 2: I have 2 channels for my guitar, Guitar Left pans all the way to the Left. Guitar Right pans all the way Right.

2. Have a dedicated “House Mic” out in the crowd.

I crank this in my mix and that gives me an awesome “Live Version” feel, I’m hearing what the house hears with the added bonus of the venue’s natural acoustics. This alone really sold me on the use of IEMs. Try it, you’ll be blown away.

   

Sincerely,

The Axe Dr.

www.AxeDr.com

  • 1. What does "IEM" mean?

    IEM stands for In Ear Monitors. In short, they are fancy sound isolating earbuds developed for singers and live musicians. They are a relatively new technology designed to block stage noise while providing excellent sound quality.

  • 2. Can you use IEMs as headphones?

    While in ear monitors are designed for live sound on stages, you can indeed use them as headphones. I do it all the time. They are basically just over engineered sound isolating earbuds.

  • 3. Are IEMs bad for your ears? ​

    When used as intended, IEMs are just as safe as any other types of headphones or earbuds. They are absolutely safer for your hearing than their counterpart, the wedge monitor. That being said, always use IEMs in both ears, never just one. The volume level can be decieving when using just one, and can cause you to compensate by increasing the volume to dangerous levels. Always use both.

  • 4. What is a "Headphone Amplifier"?

    Headphone amplifiers are used to boost and send a sound signal to a set of In Ear Monitors or Headphones. They are most often used in wired monitoring systems to allow musicians/singers to have personalized audio mixes right in their ears. They are in conjunction with IEMs or In Ear Monitors.

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