If custom-molded IEMs weren’t so expensive, most of us would own at least one pair (if not several). Luckily our options aren’t limited to $1000+ models in order to have an enjoyable listening experience. Here, we’ve listed 7 of the Best In-Ear Monitors Under 200 in order of least to most expensive. 

The models that we chose to include are varied in their uses and some will perform better than others in certain areas. For example, if you’re a musician who needs a pair for performing live, your needs and requirements will differ from someone who wants them for hi-res listening at home (or on-the-go). 

Most of them feature the standard IEM fit where the headphone cable wraps around your ear and dangles down, while others do not. 

We’ll go over the difference in sound quality, how much passive noise isolation each pair offers, and overall performance for each. 

We think you’ll enjoy scrolling through our list and feel confident that you’ll be able to find the perfect pair for your needs, wants, and most importantly – ears. 


7 Of The Best In-Ear Monitors Under 200

There are a few factors to consider before deciding which pair will best suit you and your needs. You’re probably already familiar with the concept of IEMs and how they’re different from over-ear, on-ear, and regular in-ear headphones.

One of the most important (and style-defining) features for IEMs is their ultra-secure in-ear canal fit. This does two things. 

  1. Provides a tighter seal for better passive noise-isolation
  2. Forms to the shape of your ear canal (depending on the ear tip material)

Although not every single pair comes with memory foam ear tips, most of the models here do at least come with multiple ear tip sizes for you to pick from and find the best fit. 

Another important feature is the the wrap-around headphone cable. This also serves a specific purpose that sets IEMs apart from most other in-ear headphones. 

Musicians and other live performers tend to move around quite a bit while they’re on stage. What the wrap-around cable design does is keep the earbuds firmly in place which minimizes the chance of them accidentally falling out. 

If you’re not a musician, and plan on using them for regular listening, the wrap-around cable still serves the same purpose, but isn’t absolutely necessary other than providing a more-secure overall fit. 

All in all, IEMs aren’t limited to live performers, musicians, and other audio professionals. They can also be enjoyed by everyday listeners that just want to experience a more-customized approach to hi-res earbuds. 

No matter what your reasoning (or if you’re trying them out for the first time) – they offer a truly unique listening experience that can’t be found anywhere else.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are the 7 models we chose to include:

  1. MEE Audio M6 Pro (2nd Generation)
  2. Shure SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones
  3. 1More Quad Driver In-ear Headphones
  4. MEE Audio M7 Pro Universal Fit
  5. Shure SE315-CL Sound Isolating Earphones
  6. Westone AM Pro 10 Universal Fit IEMs
  7. Audio Technica ATH-E50 Professional IEMs


Feel free to follow along all the way down to the end, or use the links above to jump ahead/skip around. If you’re ready, let’s get started!


Best In-Ear Monitors Under 200

1. MEE Audio M6 Pro (2nd Generation)



Features & Technical Specs:

  • Includes 7 different ear tips (6 silicone + 1 Comply T-series memory foam)
  • Carrying case and 1/4″ adapter included
  • Includes 2 separate (detachable) cables – 1 regular stereo cable + 1 in-line mic/remote combination
  • Option to modify the face plates and add a laser-engraved design of your choosing
  • IPX5 sweat-resistant build design
  • Flexible memory wire ear hooks
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Driver Type: Moving coil (dynamic)
  • Driver Size: 10 mm
  • Impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Dimensions: 4 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Weight: 5.8 ounces


Sonic Performance

Compared to their predecessor (the 1st generation M6 Pro) the 2nd generation model provides an improved treble and mid-range response. 

On the low end, bass performance is more subdued than the previous model yet not entirely lacking. An improved mid and upper-range frequency performance is the main feature to highlight as far as their sonic performance.

Also worth noting is how the different types of ear tips affect the sound of the audio, which we’ll cover in more detail below. 

Passive Noise Isolation

You will get multiple sizes of silicone ear tips (6 to be exact) and one set of comply memory foam ear tips. Some people prefer memory foam ear tips while others prefer the fit and feel of the silicone tips. 

The comply ear tips do tend to slightly alter the audio quality but whether that’s a good thing or not depends on your personal taste in sound signature. Unfortunately, there’s only one size included so if they don’t fit just right, you’ll have to get some replacement tips.

Both the silicone and comply tips will provide a tight seal and isolate you from outside noise. Some users have even reported fantastic noise-isolating performance while using them for riding a motorcycle and bicycle.

Are They The Right Pick For You?

The MEE Audio M6 Pro would be a great pick for you if you need a less-expensive pair of IEMs that you can use in multiple settings. Their IPX5 sweat-resistant rating makes them ideal for outdoor use such as working on your yard, light exercise, or regular listening. 

If you lose them or push them too far past their sweat-resistant abilities, it won’t be as expensive to replace them. (Some people like to buy cheaper headphones/earbuds and cycle through several pairs instead of investing more up front.) 

If you’d rather use the same pair for a longer period of time (a year or more) you’ll probably enjoy some of the other models listed below. 

Overall, the M6 Pro would be a great introductory pair if this is your first experience getting used to the different fit and feel. Click here to see more details on Amazon. 

2. Shure SE215 -CL Sound Isolating Earphones



Features & Technical Specs:

  • Wired and Wireless options available
  • Gold-plated MMCX (micro-miniature coaxial) connectors with lock-snap mechanism 
  • Includes 3 different sizes (S, M, L) of black foam and silicone ear tips
  • Compact carrying case included
  • Available in 4 different colors
  • Frequency Response: 25 Hz – 17,5 kHz
  • Driver Type: Single dynamic MicroDriver 
  • Impedance: 17 Ohms
  • Dimensions: 3 x 7 x 2 inches
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces 


Sonic Performance

When it comes to budget-friendly IEMs, the SE-215CL are almost always mentioned as one of the best options available. The black foam ear tips not only improve passive noise isolation, but also elevate the level of sound fidelity. 

The detailed bass response and clear upper range frequencies blend very well together. Overall, the sound signature is very well-balanced. Their flat, neutral sonic performance excels for classical music listening, authentic studio monitoring, and stand-out audio playback in a variety of other musical genres as well. 

Passive Noise Isolation

Out of the 3 black foam ear tips included, you should be able to find one that fits securely without causing any major discomfort. 

If this is your first experience using IEMs, you will be blown away at the level of passive noise isolation the SE215-CL have to offer. 

Even after 5 or more hours of use, the ear tips do not grow uncomfortable which means that you can use them all day if need be. After you’ve found the right ear tip size to use, a tight seal will form allowing you to use these in a variety of noisy environments.

The memory wire cable wrapped around your ears also helps increase isolation since you won’t have to constantly readjust the ear buds in most cases. 

Are They The Right Pick For You?

If you’re looking for a high quality – low cost pair of IEMs that provide a detailed, yet neutral sonic atmosphere – you’ll enjoy the Shure SE215-CL. Listening with them is a one-of-a-kind experience that is unmatched by using a regular pair of over/on-ear headphones. 

With 4 different color options available, you have the ability to better express yourself and your love for professional-grade audio gear that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to acquire. 

In the case that this will be your first experience using IEMs, the SE215-CL would be a great place to start. They offer a higher level of sonic fidelity and build quality than the M6 Pro and will arguably fit more comfortably than your other pairs of headphones. Click here to see more details on Amazon. 

3. 1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones



Features & Technical Specs:

  • World’s first THX Certified headphones
  • Features an in-line microphone and volume control cable (non-removable)
  • Expertly tuned to replicate an authentic, balanced sound profile
  • Includes 9 ear tip sizes (memory foam + silicone)
  • Also includes a leather travelling case, 1/4″ adapter, and shirt clip 
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 40,000 Hz
  • Driver Type: Triple balanced armature + Diamond-like carbon hybrid
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Weight: 0.8 ounces


Sonic Performance

The 1More quad driver in-ear headphone is the only model on this list that isn’t worn the same way traditional IEMs are. They’re worn cable down similar to most other earbud models out there. 

One downside to this design is that the cable is not removable so you won’t be able to replace it or otherwise customize them. The cable is not memory wire either, which is a plus for some and might be a negative for others. 

The main reason we chose to include them here is because of their sonic performance. Each earbud has 4 separate drivers – one mini speaker dedicated to each frequency

One of 3 balanced armature drivers powers the bass, while the other 2 handle mids and highs. The ability to fit that much hardware in a pair of in-ear headphones this small is unprecedented. Ultimately, it pays off by allowing for an extremely satisfying and distortion-free imaging.  

Passive Noise Isolation

Despite not fitting the exact mold for a pair of IEMs, these quad driver headphones provide almost just as much passive noise isolation. 

Out of the 9 included ear tips, you have your choice of either memory foam or silicone. Some prefer using silicone since they tend to fit better in some cases. 

If you try the memory foam tips and they work better – that usually works best to block outside noise from leaking in. Depending on how noisy it is while you’re wearing them, virtually all noise will be kept out (unless you’re mowing the lawn or riding a motorcycle). 

If there’s one minor downside to their build design, it would be not including a detachable memory wire cable for a more secure fit. Where the passive noise isolation lacks, the quad driver set helps pick up the slack. 

Are They The Right Pick For You?

While these aren’t worn as traditional IEMs, they have a similar fit and have been reported as sounding better than other IEMs costing above $200. For active use such as working out or performing live (for musicians) the quad drivers might not be the best fit. 

Since they don’t feature a memory wire cable that’s detachable, they will sit in your ears “cable down” rather than wrapped around. This will mainly be a downside for you if you’re seeking for a pair to use for those purposes. 

As far as hi-res listening goes (whether at home or on-the-go), these should be well within in the upper range of your choices. Although they’re not perfect for every situation, the 1More quad driver in-ear headphones have a lot to offer in terms of sonic performance and practicality. Click here to see more details on Amazon. 

4. MEE Audio M7 Pro Universal Fit



Features & Technical Specs:

  • Features removable MMCX connectors (which can be replaced if needed)
  • Includes 2 comply memory foam + 5 sets of silicone ear tips
  • 1/4″ adapter, protective carrying case, and 2 cables also included (1 in-line mic/volume control)
  • Performs well on/off stage or for casual, hi-res listening
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Driver Type: Moving coil dynamic + balanced armature hybrid
  • Driver Size: 10 mm 
  • Impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Dimensions: 51 x 0.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.8 ounces


Sonic Performance

The hybrid dual-driver featuring both moving coil dynamic and balanced armature enables a prominent bass response as well as crisp mids and clear treble. 

As compared to the M6 Pro from MEE Audio, the M7 is a much-improved version that offers more precise and detailed audio playback. 

These were designed with live performers in mind which is why the sound profile is quite neutral. As long as you don’t expect a skull-shattering bass response with muted upper range frequencies, you’ll be satisfied. 

Passive Noise Isolation

Much like the M6 Pro, these provide passive noise isolation that is more than adequate for most uses. Some users have reported buying different ear tips (than the ones included) to further improve the isolation although it’s not absolutely necessary

As long as you take the time needed to experiment and play around with the different ear tips, you should be able to find the perfect match. Making sure that the seal formed sits just right is an important step to take if you want to get the most out of the M7 Pro. 

Musician’s using these on stage report that the noise isolation provided is just enough to block out unwanted noise, but not so extreme that you’re completely shut off from your surroundings. (Unless you’re using these to perform live, they leave very little to be desired in this area.)

Are They The Right Pick For You?

If you want to hear true-to-life, improved audio playback and also like the ability to customize your cables – the MEE Audio M7 Pro will be a great fit. 

Whether you’re a live performer or not, the hybrid drivers will ensure that the waves being sent into your ear canal aren’t distorted, bloated, or unnatural-sounding at all. Some claim that the memory wire works better than more expensive Shure models which also speaks to the affordable, but quality build. 

You like to have a variety of ear tip sizes and materials to choose from (because sometimes finding the right fit is a hassle). You can customize the ear tips and cables in order to really dial down the perfect setup for your needs. Click here to see more details on Amazon. 

5. Shure SE315-CL Sound Isolating Earphones



Features & Technical Specs:

  • Includes detachable (Kevlar reinforced) memory wire cable
  • S, M, and L silicone and foam tips + 1 pair of flange ear tips to choose from
  • Features a vented driver for a wider bass response
  • Compact zip carrying case also included
  • Frequency Response: 22 Hz – 18.5 kHz
  • Driver Type: High Definition MicroDriver + Tuned BassPort
  • Impedance: 27 Ohms
  • Dimensions: 2.2 x 6.2 x 7 inches
  • Weight: 8 ounces


Sonic Performance

The Shure SE315-CL feature single dynamic MicroDrivers with a twist. In order to provide a more dynamic bass response, they also have a Tuned BassPort. The Tuned BassPort is vented which helps the lower end frequencies open up, providing a full-range and optimized sonic performance. 

This model provides an evenly-spaced soundstage, whereas the SE215 put more of an emphasis on the bass response. Their evenly-spaced soundstage allows them to perform well across a wide range of genres (even more so than the SE215). 

Users have noted hearing more detail separation and overall nuance as compared to other more expensive IEMs. It’s hard to really nitpick the sonic performance without taking into account what style of music you primarily listen to. Some people have owned both the 215 and 315 and still claim that the SE215 sound better. 

Whether or not you agree depends on what type of playback you most enjoy. Evenly-spaced and detailed or a stronger low-end emphasis that’s also pretty well-balanced?

Passive Noise Isolation

The level of passive noise isolation offered by this model is on par with what you’d expect with an upper to mid range model. For listening while vacuuming, tracking drums, or walking in a busy area – these perform exactly as advertised

You may run into some slight issues with ambient noise leaking in until you find the right ear tip to form the perfect seal. Included in the package are S, M, and L silicone, foam, and flange replacement tips.

If you find that none of those work for you, we recommend you try the Comply SmartCore Variety Pack

Some listeners don’t even mess around with stock ear tips and go straight for replacements, but that’s totally up to you as most of us can usually work with the included ear tips. 


Are They The Right Pick For You?

If you don’t mind spending a little bit extra for the Shure SE315-CL to experience the minor improvements from previous Shure models – definitely give these a try. 

As far as how they compare to the earlier model, is still up for debate. Most users find that they are slightly less bass-heavy than their predecessor instead utilizing the full range of frequencies. The difference in performance between the two really boil down to your personal taste.

If you’re someone who values an evenly-spaced soundstage with clean detail separation above all else, these will not disappoint. Most of the other features are very similar including the detachable memory wire headphone cable (Kevlar reinforced) that can be replaced if necessary. Click here to see more details on Amazon. 

6. Westone AM Pro 10 Universal Fit IEMs



Features & Technical Specs:

  • Features a detachable Aramid fiber reinforced MMCX twisted audio cable 
  • Includes 5 silicone + 5 TRUE-FIT foam ear tips
  • Compact impact-resistant monitor vault carrying case and cleaning tool also included
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 16 kHz 
  • Driver Type: Balanced armature
  • Impedance: 19 Ohms
  • Dimensions: 8 x 9 x 5 inches
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces


Sonic Performance

The Westone AM Pro 10 uses single balanced armature drivers in each earbud which allows for a sleek, compact build but also contributes to a a less-balanced overall soundstage. 

Most users report a slight mid range elevation rather than a completely dynamic sound profile that’s closer to neutral. Depending on your planned use for these, the Pro 10 may or may not be exactly what you’re looking for. 

Live performers using them for recording and/or on stage enjoy the ability to simultaneously hear both the crowd and sound on stage. If you don’t like being able to hear both at the same time and prefer a stronger seal with better overall noise isolation, you’d probably prefer the Shure SE315 or MEE Audio M7 Pro

Passive Noise Isolation

Since there are so many different sizes (and materials) of ear tips to choose from – chances are, you will be likely able to find one that provides a satisfying seal

As we mentioned above, on stage use is ideal if you don’t like to be completely isolated. For casual listening at home or at work, on the subway, etc. the seal provided maintains comfort and will keep virtually all ambient noise out when music is playing. 

Once you stop the music, loud voices around you will sound muffled but not completely blocked out and muted. Once again, on the off chance that the included ear tips do not fit your ear canal for some reason, there are many inexpensive replacement options available. 

Are They The Right Pick For You?

The Westone AM Pro 10 may be better suited for live performance than they are for casual use at home. Although they can be used in either setting with positive results, the general consensus seems to be that use by musicians for recording and/or performing is where they really shine. 

Then again, if you’re a sucker for added accessories and prefer a less-balanced soundstage, these might appeal to your personal sensibilities. Click here to see more details on Amazon. 

7. Audio Technica ATH-E50 Professional IEMs



Features & Technical Specs:

  • Includes a 1/4″ adapter, compact carrying case, and 4 different sizes of silicone ear tips
  • Headphones feature A2DC connectors for extra durability and sonic fidelity
  • Memory cable allows for a fully-customized fit 
  • Works well for both on/off stage listening
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 18,000 Hz
  • Driver Type: Single balanced armature
  • Impedance: 12 Ohms
  • Dimensions: 3.43 x 3.9 x 5.39 inches
  • Weight: 0.3 ounces


Sonic Performance

Offering a truly flat, neutral, and spacious soundscape – the Audio Technica ATH-E50 are often propped up for their ability to outperform pricier Shure models in the $500+ price range. 

They’re loved by audio professionals, live performers, as well as casual listeners and audiophiles. Every single detail in the track you’re listening to will come in loud and clear without becoming distorted. 

High-end frequencies don’t sound ‘tinny’, the mid range is even-tempered, and the lows are very present but definitely not bloated or muddy

Another strong feature of their sonic performance is the impressive detail separation between instruments, notes, and vocals. 

Passive Noise Isolation

The 4 different ear tip sizes (ranging from extra small to large) may take some getting used to for first time users. Finding appropriate ear tips to fit the earbud nozzle is one of the most common issues that have been reported. 

It’s generally recommended that you invest in some quality replacement ear tips if you really want to find the best fit that also provides the most passive noise isolation. 

Once you select the right pair of ear tips, each ear bud will remain securely in place. (Unfortunately, for some reason this specific aspect was slightly overlooked on the ATH-E50.)

Aside from noise isolation, aesthetically, there have been some very minor complaints about the slightly over-sized housings (which borderlines pretty nit-picky territory since it doesn’t really affect sonic performance). Then again, if you’re willing to spend the dough, you have the right to complain, right? 

Are They The Right Pick For You?

If you absolutely need extremely accurate imaging and impressive detail separation but don’t mind single driver IEMs – you’d be hard-pressed to find a better overall option than the Audio Technica ATH-E50 professional IEMs. 

Overall, they’re not completely perfect but what they do offer is more than adequate passive noise isolation, a stellar sonic performance, and the versatility to keep your ears happy both on and off stage. 

If you’ve already owned a pair of Shure IEMs and you’re ready to try something different, the ATH-E50 would be a great next step. Click here to see more details on Amazon. 

Narrowing Down Your Search – Are You Surprised?

Narrowing Down Your Search - Best In-Ear Monitors Under 200

The wide range of high-quality, affordable IEMs to choose from is pretty surprising – especially considering the fact that most people view them in a light that makes them seem nearly unattainable. 

We hope you were able to select one (or at least narrow down your search) for the best In-ear monitors under 200. If you’re not quite ready to make your decision, bookmark this page to revisit later when you are. 

Were you surprised to find out that your options aren’t as limited as you previously thought? Which one of the IEMs here looks the most appealing to you? 

Let us know what you think or leave any questions you have in the comment section below! It helps us to have your feedback so we can continue improving our selections and making the most helpful buying guides possible. 

Thanks for stopping by to check out our guide, we hope you found it helpful on your search! If you enjoyed this post and want to surf around our site, you’ll also enjoy browsing through 10 of The Absolute Best Headphone Albums or our picks for 25 of the Best Audiophile Albums here


Sonic Elevation: Ride The Waves. 

16 thoughts on “7 Of The Best In-Ear Monitors Under 200”

  1. I like the research and detail you put into reviewing these monitors.  Honestly i feel way behind the curve on this technology…but you’ve convinced me that I need to upgrade my “earbuds”.  My only hesitation is that earbuds are like sunglasses for me….I buy the cheap ones because I find a way to break or lose them a lot.

    But I guess it’s like anything…good stuff lasts…and if you make an investment in quality you’re more likely to take care of it.

    Great information to make a decision!

    1. Hey Tim,

      I totally understand how easy it can be to misplace earbuds, IEMs, and/or sunglasses. Your logic makes perfect sense. That’s why it’s always nice when the company includes a solid carrying case to keep them safe. 

      As surprising as it might sound, if you can find a quality in-ear monitor for under $200, it’s actually considered to be a pretty great deal. I couldn’t agree more, at the end of the day you usually get what you pay for. 🙂

      If you decide to make the jump and look for an upgrade, I’d recommend either the SoundMagic E10 or 1More Triple Driver. (Both sound great and cost less than $100.) 

      Thanks for browsing our list, I’m glad you enjoyed! 

  2. There are many awesome looking headphones listed here. I’m pretty finicky about headphones sitting in my ear–I don’t typically like it. I think it’s partially a sensory issue–they feel funny and I’m always afraid they’re going to come out. I don’t much like traditional styles of head phones either because they also don’t stay on well when exercising. Which of the headphones in your list feels the most secure and would be best for someone that doesn’t want to worry about them falling out?

    1. I think a lot of people can relate to your experience finding the balance between a secure and comfortable fit. Most in-ear monitors have cables that wrap around and over the top of your ear

      Regular in-ear headphones are usually worn cable down. When they’re worn that way, the weight of the cable can cause the earpiece to fall out of place. 

      That’s one of the many benefits when you use IEMs as opposed to standard earbuds or in-ears. The 1More Quad Driver are a good example of a quality standard in-ear

      If you wanted to try a pair of IEMs that are pretty comfy and won’t fall out of your ears, I would recommend the Shure SE215

      On the other hand, if you’re mainly looking for some workout ‘buds, you might want to take a look at the the Top 10 best in-ear headphones here instead. (A few of them are water/sweat proof which makes them more ideal for active use.)

      IEMs can be used for working out, but they aren’t usually designed to be worn in the rain or during an intense workout. I hope that answers your question, if it doesn’t make perfect sense, feel free to let me know! 

      1. Great reviews. I’m kind of interested in the shure se215 using it with a Bluetooth module but I worry about heavy sweat around my ears possibly running down along the wire and getting inside the connector. I know musicians can sweat a lot during performances but most can afford to replace their iem’s as needed. Any thoughts? Maybe I’m safer if I avoid these and get an IP rated type?

        1. Thanks Tom, I’m glad you enjoyed!

          Shure also makes a wireless version of that IEM that you might want to try instead (unless you already own a pair of wired SE-215). You’d be able to save a few bucks if you took that route.

          I understand your concern with excessive sweating causing damage to the inner components but the way they sit inside your ears should technically prevent moisture from entering the connectors.

          On the other hand, if you tend to sweat buckets (and I mean buckets) on a regular basis during your workouts, you may want to consider these workout-specific options instead.

          Hopefully that helps answers your question, happy listening. 🙂

          1. Ya, thanks. My wife has the wired se215s so I borrowed them to try, but not for doing any work or workouts. I saw Fiio also makes a BT retrofit that got ok reviews. I do like the generally flat-ish sounding response. Many of the exercise oriented models seem to favor a bass heavy response for the younger crowd. But I’ll check out your link. My music is all from CDs I’ve ripped. I don’t stream and I’m far from into today’s music. I dont want totally wireless because i also want them for yard work and if one were to fall out, I might mow over it or step on it. At least with the connecting wire, it would be unlikely to have both come out. The Bose SoundSport seem like a good option but they aren’t really sound isolating. I’ve used my old etymotics with a small Bluetooth receiver and that’s not too bad an option. I’ll chk your link for other options but leaning to the 215se since I doubt I sweat huge buckets. But mowing in the summer in south FL at times does create enough sweat my tee shirt and shorts feel like I jumped in a pool, but maybe not so bad around my ears especially now my hair is short.

          2. Oh I see, I just assumed you were planning on using them for working out because you mentioned the sweat factor. You are right about that. Many of the models on that list tend to lean towards a more v-shaped sound profile (which isn’t always a bad thing depending on personal taste).

            That makes sense, truly wireless ‘buds probably aren’t ideal for yard work or mowing the lawn for the exact reasons you mentioned. Ya, if Florida summers are that humid and intense, I don’t know that there’s any way around at least some sweat exposure.

            That said, I think the Shure SE215 would be a great fit, especially with the additional context you provided! You should be more than happy with them if you decide to make the jump. Best of luck!

  3. Most of the time when I use earphones, within 2 or 3 minutes my ears are already aching and I cannot listen through earphones anymore, the pain is too excruciating.  So I don’t do well with earphones to start with.

    My question is:  What are the side effects of using earphones on an ongoing basis?  Surely one’s normal hearing would deteriorate since the volume would get louder and louder?

    I’d like to hear your take on this and perhaps learn something new?!


    1. I’m sorry to hear that Edu, 

      Unfortunately, I think a lot of people can relate to your experience. As you know, no two ears are quite the same which makes finding the most comfortable fit a little bit more difficult than other headphone styles. 

      If you’ve haven’t yet, I would recommend trying memory foam ear tips with your earphones before you give up on them altogether (which is completely up to you, of course). A lot of people (myself included) find that they stay inside your ear more securely and don’t cause any major irritation. 

      To answer your question, it is true that exposure to loud noise (past a certain decibel level) can cause hearing damage or loss. That said, in-ear monitors and headphones aren’t always to blame

      Volume (measured in decibels) and duration of exposure to loud and usually painful sounds can cause damage to occur. As long as you let your ears rest and keep the volume within safe limits, you can continue using earphones/headphones without any negative consequences. 

      You might enjoy taking a look at this post from the Stony Brook School of Medicine that covers whether or not headphones and earphones can cause permanent hearing loss

      A good general rule of thumb is to lower the volume if it becomes physically painful. That aside, hanging out in loud environments (without headphones) for extended periods of time can also cause damage. 

      As Oscar Wilde put it: “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. As long as you’re listening for reasonable amounts of time at reasonable volume levels, you should be fine! 

      Thanks for your question, I’m positive you’re not the only one who’s ever wondered the same thing. 🙂

  4. Hey Dom, nice article. I’ve been looking for some headset/In Ear Monitors and your article was right on time. I’ll tell you this, I’ll never just pick any old headphones ever again, I’m looking for some that I can really use and your article reminded of that. I’m going to bookmark your page and go back to have a look at the selection, I may buy some for Black Friday. Great job!

    1. Thanks R.J., 

      The in-ear monitors here are definitely a great place to start looking for some quality entry-level options. 🙂

      Don’t hesitate to stop by and leave a comment when (and if) you decide to come back and browse for Black Friday – I’d be more than happy to help! (Not to mention you never know when some of these may go on sale.)

      Thanks for browsing our list, I’m glad you enjoyed! 

  5. Hey Dom, I really found the information in your article quite helpful as I ride a motorcycle and have tried many of the lower-end cheaper earbud options, trying to work up to pair that works at 80 mph lol.

    At those speeds on a motorcycle it’s really hard to hear anything but the wind, but you’re write up gave me hope that it’s possible to listen to tunes again while riding. I have one one more pair I haven’t tried yet and if they don’t work I’ll be back to finish my research with your help, and choose a pair that will work. Thanks again


    1. Hey Eric, 

      I don’t ride motorcycles myself, but I can imagine it would be difficult to find some quality in-ear headphones that you can ride with. 

      Most people mention needing passive noise isolation and volume for listening on the airplane, but I think that dilemma pales in comparison. 🙂

      I definitely think it’s possible one of the 7 in-ear monitors here would be able to live up to the challenge (even if you have to turn the volume all the way up)! If you do decide to come back again, I’d recommend considering either the Shure SE215 or MEE Audio M7 Pro

      Either would be a great choice that you could use on your motorcycle and at home when you’re relaxing on the couch. 🙂  

      Thanks for stopping by, let me know if you have anymore questions! 

  6. This info was so helpful. The only in-ear headphones I’ve owned were the typical cheap earbuds with the cable hanging down, and they ALWAYS fell out. They didn’t feel good in my ears… would make them hurt after about 30 minutes, so I couldn’t even complete my workout without pain in my ears. 

    Thanks for being so thorough in your descriptions and including pictures. I will definitely return to this site to help me in deciding on my next set of headphones. And yes, you get what you pay for.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it Cris!

      You’re definitely not alone on that. Using in-ear monitors for working out doesn’t always seem like an obvious choice (but that’s most likely because they’re one of the less well-known styles of headphones). 

      The only slight downside to using IEMs during your workouts is that many of the ones included on this list aren’t water-resistant or sweat-proof. Then again, if a secure fit and official IPX (waterproof) rating is your main concern, sports IEMs like the Mee Audio X1 would be a great place to start. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by to browse our recommendations, feel free to leave another comment to let us know when you stop by again! 

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