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Best 'Bang for your buck' IEM - Poll

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

  • 7Hz Salnotes Zero

    Votes: 62 23.8%
  • BLON BL-03

    Votes: 10 3.8%
  • DUNU Titan S

    Votes: 4 1.5%
  • HZsound Heart Mirror

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • Moondrop CHU

    Votes: 15 5.7%
  • Tanchjim Tanya

    Votes: 3 1.1%
  • Tripowin x HBB Olina

    Votes: 3 1.1%
  • TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero (Original = Blue)

    Votes: 47 18.0%
  • TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:RED

    Votes: 126 48.3%
  • Other

    Votes: 53 20.3%

  • Total voters
    261

markanini

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Once I tried Tin C2 with some mods to tame the hot stock treble, the results have been a game changer. Everything else sounds treble deficient to me now, that includes most of the popular budgets sets from the last few years. Cost was $30 for for IEM, and $9 for the damping materials. Even graphs similar to a well regarded $300 Moondrop Blessing 2.
image.png
 
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Alexium

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Serious question: I have the Crinnacle Truthear Zero (EQed, and I like them a lot after EQ). Should I buy the 7Hz Zero, or is my other Zero just better? Fit not a concern, only sound quality.

Also, why is the $80 Hexa not on the list? They're not so good, or they just released later and didn't make it?
 
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Human Bass

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Kiwi Cadenza for me. Fun basshead with good pina gain and extremely comfortable.
 

Alexium

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I wanted to buy the PR2 after seeing some reviews, but then I read that there was a silent revision, allegedly the manufacturer removed some filter and now the treble is boosted by like 6 or 8 dB, basically screaming. Have you guys heard about that, is it true or are the currently sold PR2 alright?
 
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eddantes

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Samsung EO-IG955 Earphones - $10 or less...​

Measurements:
and

Use mine daily for office use.
 

Flippo63

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I wanted to buy the PR2 after seeing some reviews, but then I read that there was a silent revision, allegedly the manufacturer removed some filter and now the treble is boosted by like 6 or 8 dB, basically screaming. Have you guy heard about that, is it true or are the currently sold PR2 alright?
Yes it is true but takes eq well to fix problem plus my hearing on high treble is not what it used to be.
 

Sebby

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Volevo comprare il PR2 dopo aver visto alcune recensioni, ma poi ho letto che c'era stata una revisione silenziosa, presumibilmente il produttore aveva rimosso qualche filtro e ora gli alti sono aumentati di circa 6 o 8 dB, praticamente da urlo. Ragazzi, ne avete sentito parlare, è vero o il PR2 attualmente venduto va bene?
Stay away from KZ
 
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Cutting the treble is not 'basically the same thing', when the magnitude of the cut differs substantially. As you don't seem to understand how frequency response works, I'll make this nice and clear for you. Here's just the difference between your EQ applied to the original Zero and the Zero Red's stock response:
View attachment 302971
As seen here, your EQ on the Zero has a huge up to 3-4 dB less energy then the Red over a broadband (more audible) range in the upper-mids to mid-treble where our hearing is most sensitive, resulting in an extremely dull, muffled sound (even more than the Red), which is exactly what I heard when I tried your bizarre EQ on my Zeros.

Yes you can, using Crinacle's graph tool with your EQ applied to the Zero measurement, just as I did. It's pretty obvious, but if you can't work out how I can explain it for you.
After reading numerous replies of yours throughout the last few threads...it seems you are unhappy with some aspect of your life and then take out that frustration here on various posters trying to have a calm rational debate.

Your level of knowledge is Zero (pun intended) excuse for your rude responses. As I watched Oppenheimer recently where he states brilliance will let you get away with a lot...you are certainly not at that level yet and therefore should take a deep breath and treat people with respect until provoked otherwise.

People with far greater credentials than yourself still manage to treat those discussing the industry/hobby/field with significantly more respect. It's more of a reflection on yourself than the people you reply to.
 

Alexium

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After much reading and hesitation I bought Letshuoer S12 Pro for $83, and for that price, compared to TxC Zero, I think they're very good IEMs. They require no EQ (except for a bit of a low bass boost, but that's down to preference). With the currently ongoing Aliexpress sale they're probably available even cheaper.
Truthear Hexa is $47 right now, that has to be very good bang for your buck.
 
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After much reading and hesitation I bought Letshuoer S12 Pro for $83, and for that price, compared to TxC Zero, I think they're very good IEMs. They require no EQ (except for a bit of a low bass boost, but that's down to preference). With the currently ongoing Aliexpress sale they're probably available even cheaper.
Truthear Hexa is $47 right now, that has to be very good bang for your buck.
So which do you prefer at the end of the day s12 pro or TCzero?
 

Alexium

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S12 definitely, but I'm not convinces it's 2x better. That's the "problem" with TCZ - they set such a high bar for such a low price, you're hard-pressed to find an IEM that's better, and that's priced proportionally (not 10x more expensive for 2x subjective gain).
I think for some people just not needing an EQ is going to be worth that extra $40. Although compared to TCZ (and to my own taste), a bass boost is required, but out of the box it's not really lacking. Just toned down. After a bit of a low shelf all the lowest notes are there with pleasant oomph and rumble.
Otherwise the tonal balance is, to me, perfect, and overall I did not find anything that TCZ does better, other than deep bass extension out of the box.

The only bad thing about S12 is the cable, and it's really bad, I had no idea a cable can make my ears hurt so much. Luckily, the TCZ cable fits perfectly and with it I barely even feel I have IEMs on.
All in all this is a reasonably popular model, judging by how often it comes up in various reviews and comparisons - not quite at the Hexa level, but popular. And I can confirm that it's well worth a recommendation (for below $100 - perhaps not for the sticker price of 130).

Having said that, there is one thing that left me unhappy about this purchase. A few reviewrs one (not one or two) point out S12 as the benchmark in "technicality", e. g. resolution/detail retrieval, and I'm not feeling that at all. It's definitely no worse than TCS, but I don't feel it's better either. If anyone else reading this has S12/S12 Pro - I'd be very interested in your opinion.
 

phoenixdogfan

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IDK if $150 USD is still considered a "bang for the buck" buy, but if it is, based on the reviews, it seems the polling list should be amended to include the Truthear Novas.
 

Sebby

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S12 definitely, but I'm not convinces it's 2x better. That's the "problem" with TCZ - they set such a high bar for such a low price, you're hard-pressed to find an IEM that's better, and that's priced proportionally (not 10x more expensive for 2x subjective gain).
I think for some people just not needing an EQ is going to be worth that extra $40. Although compared to TCZ (and to my own taste), a bass boost is required, but out of the box it's not really lacking. Just toned down. After a bit of a low shelf all the lowest notes are there with pleasant oomph and rumble.
Otherwise the tonal balance is, to me, perfect, and overall I did not find anything that TCZ does better, other than deep bass extension out of the box.

The only bad thing about S12 is the cable, and it's really bad, I had no idea a cable can make my ears hurt so much. Luckily, the TCZ cable fits perfectly and with it I barely even feel I have IEMs on.
All in all this is a reasonably popular model, judging by how often it comes up in various reviews and comparisons - not quite at the Hexa level, but popular. And I can confirm that it's well worth a recommendation (for below $100 - perhaps not for the sticker price of 130).

Having said that, there is one thing that left me unhappy about this purchase. A few reviewrs one (not one or two) point out S12 as the benchmark in "technicality", e. g. resolution/detail retrieval, and I'm not feeling that at all. It's definitely no worse than TCS, but I don't feel it's better either. If anyone else reading this has S12/S12 Pro - I'd be very interested in your opinion.

I had purchased the S12 Pro (€150 on Amazon Italy) with the aim of comparing it with the Final A4000 purchased in 2021 (€139 on Amazon Italy). For me it didn't hold a candle to the A4000 and I decided that for €150 it wasn't worth it.
It has good technicalities but loses in soundstage and bass. Zero Red is a good IEM but not the best in its price range, which is why I gave it away.
As I write this I'm wearing Kiwi Ears Cadenza: they cost less and I think they have a more accurate tone than the Zero Reds, although they are only as technically decent as the Zero Reds according to my personal tastes. The issue of diminishing returns starting from €50 has existed for several years now (I noticed this already in 2017) and as far as Marketing says, from 2016/2017 to today there have been no noteworthy improvements (I'm talking about the range €50 - €500).The real improvements occurred from €40 to €20, but after €50 the situation hasn't changed too much over the years...
Before 2020 I never expected to be able to appreciate very cheap IEMs (Cadenza), and yet here I am.
Compared to the Zero Reds, the S12 rivals in terms of timbre (it depends on taste) but in very busy passages the S12 keeps pace quite well, separating well and has a lot of air. Instead, Zero Red goes into crisis very easily, mixing everything in a confusing way and has no air (I had worked a lot with the Parametric EQ).

The value of things is subjective, but for me not having the muddy sound in fast passages or where many instruments playing together, having much more air, is worth well beyond the money difference between S12 and Zero Red, in my opinion.
Personally, I am willing to sacrifice something in terms of Timbre to have satisfying technicalities.
 

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Alexium

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Thanks! So people were not wrong to recommend S12 for technicality. Do you know a more technical IEM in this price range?
And could you recommend a track (or several) that demonstrates TCZ becoming muddy?

IDK if $150 USD is still considered a "bang for the buck" buy, but if it is, based on the reviews, it seems the polling list should be amended to include the Truthear Novas.
Isn't everyone underwhelmed by them?
 
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Sebby

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Thanks! So people were not wrong to recommend S12 for technicality. Do you know a more technical IEM in this price range?
And could you recommend a track (or several) that demonstrates TCZ becoming muddy?


Isn't everyone underwhelmed by them?
Certainly! Consider that I'm going from memory having given it as a gift almost 2 months ago.
An example track would be "Song of the Sister" by Hans Zimmer from 4:30 when the vocals come in and then you have the vocals along with the bass drum.
With Zero Red I hear the bass with the voices slightly mixed together. With the A4000 or the Hifiman RE800s (I know it's an IEM that cost €600 when it came out, but on Aliexpress it costs €50) I hear the bass but I also hear the bass drum hit which with Zero Red is almost lost. Even in some songs of "Five Finger Death Punch", especially in the more "energetic" choruses, I hear the voices and instruments not well defined.
With instrumental/classical music I feel a certain compression towards a single point especially in challenging passages. Cadenza has the same flaws but remains less tiring to listen to. These are subtleties, I realize, but they are there.
There are many as more technical IEMs than S12, but it depends on the technicality you want. The Final A4000 has a very wide soundstage but has high treble and won't digest poorly recorded tracks, unless you want to encounter sibilant vocals ("Easy on Me" by Adele puts a strain on your hearing if you listen at a high volume medium-high). It is suitable for listening at medium or medium-low volumes depending on the track, but with orchestral music, soundtracks, etc... they sound divine and volume is not an issue. I preferred the A4000s to the S12 Pros according to my tastes... HIFIMAN RE800s (not the Golds) are excellent IEMs and digest all genres better and for what they cost now on Aliexpress, in my opinion it's worth having a pair, but unfortunately it doesn't have a detachable cable and I find its EarTips terrible (the Zero Red ones fit well).
However, I am a person who doesn't like the Harman Curve very much. Zero Red (as well as Cadenza) are IEMs that I can tolerate when I'm listening to music in the background and focused on other things, but if I told you they make me want to listen to music, I'd be lying to you.
 

Alexium

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Thanks for the recommendation! Do you have the $50 or $600 RE800s? I'm pretty sure they're not the same, the new ones must be cost-optimized. Very tempted to pick one up, $37 during the ongoing sale.

I've had Dunu DN 1000 with a similar non-detachable cable, was worried about it, but had no issues with the cable. Eventually one of the dynamic drivers went out before the cable did (and it was 100% home use, just sitting at the desk). This was multiple years (4-6) of daily use.
 

Sebby

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Thanks for the recommendation! Do you have the $50 or $600 RE800s? I'm pretty sure they're not the same, the new ones must be cost-optimized. Very tempted to pick one up, $37 during the ongoing sale.

I've had Dunu DN 1000 with a similar non-detachable cable, was worried about it, but had no issues with the cable. Eventually one of the dynamic drivers went out before the cable did (and it was 100% home use, just sitting at the desk). This was multiple years (4-6) of daily use.
HIFIMAN itself sells it on its site for around $99. They kept the package to a minimum.
We have heard HIFIMAN and the one on Aliexpress is reliable.
I made a comparison between the Amazon one (€130) and the Aliexpress one (which I kept) and I didn't feel any differences
 

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Chromatischism

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Certainly! Consider that I'm going from memory having given it as a gift almost 2 months ago.
An example track would be "Song of the Sister" by Hans Zimmer from 4:30 when the vocals come in and then you have the vocals along with the bass drum.
With Zero Red I hear the bass with the voices slightly mixed together. With the A4000 or the Hifiman RE800s (I know it's an IEM that cost €600 when it came out, but on Aliexpress it costs €50) I hear the bass but I also hear the bass drum hit which with Zero Red is almost lost. Even in some songs of "Five Finger Death Punch", especially in the more "energetic" choruses, I hear the voices and instruments not well defined.
With instrumental/classical music I feel a certain compression towards a single point especially in challenging passages. Cadenza has the same flaws but remains less tiring to listen to. These are subtleties, I realize, but they are there.
There are many as more technical IEMs than S12, but it depends on the technicality you want. The Final A4000 has a very wide soundstage but has high treble and won't digest poorly recorded tracks, unless you want to encounter sibilant vocals ("Easy on Me" by Adele puts a strain on your hearing if you listen at a high volume medium-high). It is suitable for listening at medium or medium-low volumes depending on the track, but with orchestral music, soundtracks, etc... they sound divine and volume is not an issue. I preferred the A4000s to the S12 Pros according to my tastes... HIFIMAN RE800s (not the Golds) are excellent IEMs and digest all genres better and for what they cost now on Aliexpress, in my opinion it's worth having a pair, but unfortunately it doesn't have a detachable cable and I find its EarTips terrible (the Zero Red ones fit well).
However, I am a person who doesn't like the Harman Curve very much. Zero Red (as well as Cadenza) are IEMs that I can tolerate when I'm listening to music in the background and focused on other things, but if I told you they make me want to listen to music, I'd be lying to you.

I think you're referring to the Harman IE 2019 target, which is way too bright for me and not neutral at all. It makes me curious to read that you don't like it either, yet you like another treble-heavy IEM.

I think your description of the upper bass and lower midrange lacking clarity and separation is mostly due to frequency response, and that is eqalizable.

I will look up the IEMs you mentioned as I haven't heard of them before.
 
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