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Best 'Bang for your buck' IEM - Poll

Best 'Bang for your buck' IEM under $100.

  • 7Hz Salnotes Zero

    Votes: 88 26.2%
  • BLON BL-03

    Votes: 13 3.9%
  • DUNU Titan S

    Votes: 6 1.8%
  • HZsound Heart Mirror

    Votes: 2 0.6%
  • Moondrop CHU

    Votes: 19 5.7%
  • Tanchjim Tanya

    Votes: 4 1.2%
  • Tripowin x HBB Olina

    Votes: 5 1.5%
  • TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero (Original = Blue)

    Votes: 53 15.8%
  • TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:RED

    Votes: 156 46.4%
  • Other

    Votes: 70 20.8%

  • Total voters
    336
I really like the Sennheiser Momentum wired IEM. They are about $75, I think. Audio Lab in Cambridge, MA did away with all other earbuds and carries only these because they see them as the sweet spot b/t cost and performance. I like them so well that I am always on the lookout for extra NIB pairs to have as a backup.
 
Even with the insane scammy behaviour, they still created something that is better than the Kiwi Ears Quintet. I can only defend myself by saying that after listening to those everything else sounded superb.
I think all companies act more or less the same (some are more scrutinized than others) but at least KZ make cheap but good sounding products that have introduced a lot of people to the hobby. The Hydro is still a good IEM which works and sounds as advertised.
I have read of minor problems and some horror stories for $100+ or even $500+ products and not just isolated incidents, things that keep showing up, I don't really know why some brands get a pass and some are hated.

I have had problems in the past with Sennheiser (HD600), Shure (SE535, SRH440), Moondrop (the infamous paint pealing) and TRN (don't remember but cheap IEM model) in the past but if the price is right and the product is something I want I'll buy from them again, no problem.
 
Yes, I have been trying to listen to disparities caused by the different filters, but these still sound good to me with 1100 EQ'ed to Oratory Target and Dolby Atmos on.

Preamp: -2.6 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 20 Hz Gain 2.6 dB Q 1.000
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 170 Hz Gain -1.9 dB Q 0.700
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 610 Hz Gain 2.6 dB Q 0.800
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1400 Hz Gain -2.3 dB Q 1.800
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2800 Hz Gain -1.2 dB Q 2.000

Obviously, they are my basshead set.
 
I have been trying to listen to disparities caused by the different filters, but these still sound good to me with 1100 EQ'ed to Oratory Target and Dolby Atmos on.

Mine still had a little imbalance last time I tried them but it might not be the filters though, I payed close attention this time and it was most noticeable with voices (tried some mono recordings too), so it might have been the mids (8mm?) driver only, anyway I sent them back a couple of hours ago (after a short session just to be sure).

Now lets see what type/tuning try next in this price range.
 
I'd like to add the TRN Orca to the bang for your buck thread, for $15 (usually on sale) this things are really good and also have working switches, the signature is Harman-like, the shell is metallic if a little funky looking, they are small and comfortable, they are well balanced, bass is not too strong but present and well defined the same go for the treble.
They can go from bright to dark depending on the config.

I use them in the UUD config.
graph(1).png
graph(2).png

Edit. By trying the combinations I noticed that the UDU is wrongly labeled in the graph and should be DUD.

Also this setting get it very close to Usound 1v1.
graph(4).png
 
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HifiGo has a nice deal for Kinera Pandamon 2, now that they took rid of the previous unbearable aesthetic, for around 40$\€ it can be an interesting way to try a mini planar driver with vocal oriented tuning.

graph.png
 
it can be an interesting way to try a mini planar driver
Are these Kinera drivers real “planar” or variant of a DD with a flat, square, membrane? I thought it was the later…
 
That is a very bright IEM.
I don't know, never listened to it or tried to eq to that curve, but given the response in the highs I think of it more as "forward" than "bright".
I don't own it and not planning to get it, just wanted to report the good deal for something a bit different in tech and FR from the usual in the price range.

Are these Kinera drivers real “planar” or variant of a DD with a flat, square, membrane? I thought it was the later…
Honestly i don't have a clue and never investigated, they have transparent shell so you can see the driver, and they have extremely low impedance (9 ohms), but I don't know if something can be disclosed from it.
8143R9tb40L._SL1500_.jpg
 
I don't know, never listened to it or tried to eq to that curve, but given the response in the highs I think of it more as "forward" than "bright".
I don't own it and not planning to get it, just wanted to report the good deal for something a bit different in tech and FR from the usual in the price range.

OK, out of curiosity I made a quick test equalizing Truthear Gate to the Pandamon 2 target and can confirm that it doesn't sound bright at all, just really forward and vocal centric, bass for my taste is still sufficient, no sign of sibilance but too few "air" and spatial sensation. I can't call it bad, nothing is noticeably flawed but not much enjoyable for me.
 
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I got curious and tried it with EQ emulated Trio and I didn't like it, too forward, lean and no bass for my taste.

There is a lot of hype for IEMs with wonky frequency responses, I tried a few and emulated others with EQ but they weren't for me, I can listen to anything form a bit bright to a little dark as long as they roughly follow the shape of the Harman curve up to the pinna region (in some cases I add a dB or so to the mid-bass) otherwise they sound unnatural to me but given the proliferation and good reviews of low pinna gain IEMs I think the difference between ear canals matters much more than thought.

Also I am treble sensitive but at first I thought pinna gain was the problem and it took a few IEMs and a lot of EQ to realize that the thinness, shoutiness or "hardness" of sound I was experiencing was more on the upper frequencies than the pinna region and yes an elevated pinna sounds worse than a lower one but non sound natural to me, is a good thing we have so many different response "curves" to choose from plus EQ.
 
ahahah, i smell FOMO here :p

no matter how good its FR can be and how cheap it is, I'll never buy a KZ iem: apart all other considerations about the brand that one can or cannot freely agree with, the fact is that they use those damned qdc angled connectors on the cable that for me will never allow a good seal, and they continue sticking to those f***ing 0.75 mm pins that would also inhibit me from swapping cable with others i already own. They'll simply be unusable to me.

Honestly, not a bit sad about it.
 
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no matter how good its FR can be and how cheap it is, I'll never buy a KZ iem
I only have had one problem with KZ and is not the first one I had issues with other brands* but we are buying low-cost IEMs in a highly competitive market so in the end so is to be expected. I'm brand agnostic and don't pay attention the the drama (there is plenty) I just check for a good return policy just in case.

*Rambling*
KZ with all the problems and bad reputation still is one of the most competitive (and innovative??) brands with really cheap IEMs that look well made and sound way above the asking price, in fact KZ, TRN, QKZ, Moondrop, 7Hz and other low-cost brands (or low cost products by usually more expensive brands) are one of the reasons I think that IEMs are solved thing, they can now manipulate the frequency response almost at will with incredibly low distortion, and while you still have costlier products with different technologies in my experience there is not much (if any) to be gained in my opinion it all comes down to frequency response (distortion to a lesser degree) and fit, fit as in how the design interact with your anatomy (HRTF/ear cannal), the engineers can make a best guess or use some kind of known average but in most cases (if not all) you'll have to try for yourself to check if it works for you.
*Sorry for the ramble*

and they continue sticking to those f***ing 0.75 mm pins that would also inhibit me from swapping cable with others i already own
For KZ or other 2 Pin brands I usually use after market (because I want a 3 button control/mic) 0.78mm cable with a QDC or 2pin termination, with no problems, I have never broken a connector.

ahahah, i smell FOMO here :p
Yes this time I can't deny it, I was on "break" from buying more of the dammed things but the graph cought my eye and then I saw the price ($7.69 for me with some AE "coins").


*brands much more expensive than KZ but still low-cost for what it is (+/-$200), and luckily all have been resolved with no so much trouble.
 
The KZ AS16 Pros surprised me. 8 drivers per side, the sound profile is basically the target curve I've seen here, and I was impressed with their isolation. They're still inexpensive IEMs, so I'm sure they will have a bunch of THD, channel imbalances and whatnot. And getting an upgraded cable is a good idea. But for pure pleasure while playing on stage, I was impressed for the price (less than $100US).
 
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I only have had one problem with KZ and is not the first one I had issues with other brands* but we are buying low-cost IEMs in a highly competitive market so in the end so is to be expected. I'm brand agnostic and don't pay attention the the drama (there is plenty) I just check for a good return policy just in case.

*Rambling*
KZ with all the problems and bad reputation still is one of the most competitive (and innovative??) brands with really cheap IEMs that look well made and sound way above the asking price, in fact KZ, TRN, QKZ, Moondrop, 7Hz and other low-cost brands (or low cost products by usually more expensive brands) are one of the reasons I think that IEMs are solved thing, they can now manipulate the frequency response almost at will with incredibly low distortion, and while you still have costlier products with different technologies in my experience there is not much (if any) to be gained in my opinion it all comes down to frequency response (distortion to a lesser degree) and fit, fit as in how the design interact with your anatomy (HRTF/ear cannal), the engineers can make a best guess or use some kind of known average but in most cases (if not all) you'll have to try for yourself to check if it works for you.
*Sorry for the ramble*


For KZ or other 2 Pin brands I usually use after market (because I want a 3 button control/mic) 0.78mm cable with a QDC or 2pin termination, with no problems, I have never broken a connector.


Yes this time I can't deny it, I was on "break" from buying more of the dammed things but the graph cought my eye and then I saw the price ($7.69 for me with some AE "coins").


*brands much more expensive than KZ but still low-cost for what it is (+/-$200), and luckily all have been resolved with no so much trouble.

Yeah, I pretty much agree with you. It's the Wild West and not one of those companies is innocent. I mean they pretty much bought off every major Youtube reviewer with collaborations. To be honest, Moondrop's sheer cynicism with the Crinacle Dusk annoys me nearly as much as what KZ did.

I have a nice (and cheap) cable that will hopefully work well with these. I use it with the CCA Trios, but Amir has them right now. Hope he reviews them.

QKZ-T1-Wired-Headphone-Cord-8-Strand-Silver-Plated-Upgrade-Cord-0-75MM-2Pin-HiFi-Earphone.jpg_.png

For me it is not so much about FOMO (I didn't bite on the GATE, for instance) as much as I like to have friends try out ultra cheap IEMs that help convince them that sound quality and price have no correlation. Plus I love giving these things out as gifts. They are perfect random gifts for any time. For me, this one really does seem like a great bang-for-the-buck if one likes a little bit of added warmth. Plus I don't have the Truthear Crinacle Reds (fit) so I am curious about these as they are pretty close. It's funny to see KZ beginning to abandon their sort of signature sound for Crinacle collaboration responses (The CCA Trios are modelled after the Truthear Crinacle Blues but with sub bass). But I guess everyone is doing this now.

If I am being honest, right now I am enjoying a newly released set of low cost wireless headphones that I think are going to be an absolute killer bang-for-the-buck hit more than IEMs. Expect to see a review from Amir. Hope my ears are right.
 
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I have a nice (and cheap) cable that will hopefully work well with these. I use it with the CCA Trios, but Amir has them right now. Hope he reviews them.

View attachment 381023
For me it is not so much about FOMO (I didn't bite on the GATE, for instance) as much as I like to have friends try out ultra cheap IEMs that help convince them that sound quality and price have no correlation. Plus I love giving these things out as gifts. They are perfect random gifts for any time. For me, this one really does seem like a great bang-for-the-buck if one likes a little bit of added warmth. Plus I don't have the Truthear Crinacle Reds (fit) so I am curious about these as they are pretty close. It's funny to see KZ beginning to abandon their sort of signature sound for Crinacle collaboration responses (The CCA Trios are modelled after the Truthear Crinacle Blues but with sub bass). But I guess everyone is doing this now.

If I am being honest, right now I am enjoying a new set of low cost wireless headphones what I think is going to be an absolute killer bang-for-the-buck hit more than IEMs. Expect to see a review from Amir. Hope my ears are right.

Upgrading the cables to something more reliable I think is the key for the KZ IEMs I've used ... not so much for sound quality but for long-term durability :)
 
For me it is not so much about FOMO (I didn't bite on the GATE, for instance) as much as I like to have friends try out ultra cheap IEMs that help convince them that sound quality and price have no correlation. Plus I love giving these things out as gifts. They are perfect random gifts for any time. For me, this one really does seem like a great bang-for-the-buck if one likes a little bit of added warmth. Plus I don't have the Truthear Crinacle Reds (fit) so I am curious about these as they are pretty close. It's funny to see KZ beginning to abandon their sort of signature sound for Crinacle collaboration responses (The CCA Trios are modelled after the Truthear Crinacle Blues but with sub bass). But I guess everyone is doing this now.
I also like to give them as gifts to my nieces and nephews, they all are music lovers and for some reason metalheads (but that might have been my doing:p) and also they appreciate good sound so when I accumulate some or if I particularly like something I bought some and give them as a gift. The rest of my friends and family don't give a hoot about audio or music for that matter.

I also passed on the GATe and most of the new hyped ones in fact this is the only one I bought in a little while and I plan to keep it that way for a time, it was giving me anxiety trying to find the PERFECT ONE which of course doesn't exist.

I ordered this one because I have the Libra Balanced ($12) and I like it but fit is not good for me and also they look very cheap. Lets see how this ones fair.

I think KZ is trying to refine the Harman target through people feedback/opinions more than follow Crinacle colabs with some of their new sets but also they are still replicating the response of popular ones, I guess to see what sticks or as a market strategy, it can be a hassle to hobbyists but I think in the end it will be of some benefit like the switches, if they keep refining them they can become quite useful.
 
I didn't skip on Gate and I am glad I didn't. The cable is outstanding, just like the Hola cable I have. I chose the mic option this time, it picks up my voice crisply and has three button control. Perfection.

The IEM turned out more than usable. I prefer the Gates tuning to Truthear Red! Although it won't beat the tuning quality of Moondrop Lan and Truthear Hexa. Those two are hard to beat as far as tuning quality goes.

KZ/CCA can only rely on FOMO and new toy syndrome. Other than CRA they didn't produce anything with big staying power, and the CRA is no longer sold. Only an impostor IEM bearing its name is being sold, which shows how much they value consumer intelligence. Don't take me as a hater though. I notice new KZ/CCA products and look for new squigs to see if they do release something that I might like.

Generally, no IEM is perfect regardless of brand or price. But also, discussing Truthear and Moondrop vs. KZ is like Tesla and Cybertruck vs. Kia.
 
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