In-Ear Monitors, IEMs or Earbuds are portable, compact, and lightweight units. Used by musicians, producers, DJs and audiophiles alike for both listening, DJing and studio mixing. As well as being the perfect portable monitoring system if you’re on the go and don’t have the space for traditional studio monitors, or bulky over-ear headphones.
Whether you’re a producer or a DJ, a good set of In-Ear Monitors will help ensure your fans hear the music exactly the way you intended it to. Allowing you to hear every aspect and nuance of your songs, so you can produce more accurate mixes. As well as cue up your next tracks in exactly the right spots, and protect your ears from the high volumes associated with live performances.
Above all, In-Ear Monitors have the power to take your production and performances to the next level. In this article, we cover some of the best choices when it comes to In-Ear Monitors. Including budget options, luxury options, and the best value overall.
- Why You Need In Ear Monitors
- Buying Advice
- The Round Up
Why You Need In-Ear Monitors
If you’re a musician or producer, you need a pair of in-ear monitors in your kit. Simply put, IEMs let you hear your tracks more cleanly and accurately. Isolating your audio while sealing off outside interference and noise. They’re perfect when you’re performing, as well as mixing in the studio, or on the go.
Boasting noise-canceling properties, IEMs will block out unwanted sounds and distractions. Allowing you to focus solely on your mix.
Additionally, IEM’s mean you don’t have to play music as loudly on stage. You’ll often find musicians, and especially drummers, battling each other on stage just so they can hear themselves. This is no longer an issue with IEMs, which allow you to hear everything you’re playing without fear of the nuances being lost. While singers will also benefit, being able to precisely hear the notes they’re hitting (or missing) when performing.
If you’re setting out to buy your first pair of IEMs, it’s important to establish a budget. Since In-Ear-Monitors sport a feature set far superior to your average set of earphones. It’s fair to say their price-point is understandably already going to push the budget for a set of earphones.
As such, none of these products are “cheap”, especially if you’re looking at wireless options. Although we do feature a few more budget-friendly options in this list. However, it will all depend on your intended use as to which one is right for you.
It goes without saying, you get what you pay for. So the more you’re willing to spend on a set of in-ear monitors, the better quality you’re going to receive. Now, if you’re just an audiophile who appreciates high-fidelity audio, you might be satisfied with a cheaper option. However, professional musicians and producers will likely rely on only the best in-ear monitors to get the job done.
A set of budget options are likely to be powered by just one or two drivers. While professional level in-ear monitors can be powered by up to eight drivers, offering extended frequencies and even wider dynamic ranges. But this level of performance definitely comes at a cost.
Furthermore, some high-end brands such as InEarz offer IEM’s custom molded to your ear canal. Offering superior noise cancellation, comfort, and concentration. These are usually only offered by going straight to the manufacturers themselves, and they’re not exactly cheap.
Are you an audiophile looking for a high-end device for in-ear listening? A bedroom producer looking to improve the standard of your mixes? Or an onstage performing musician who demands only the most professional pair of monitors? Again, these are all factors that will have an influence on your choice of IEM’s. It doesn’t make sense for a bedroom producer to drop thousands on a set of earphones (unless you want to, of course). Just like it wouldn’t make sense for a professional muso to sacrifice audio fidelity and opt for the cheaper option.
Wired or Wireless In-Ear Monitors
The final thing to consider when buying In-Ear Monitors is whether you go wired, or wireless. Most commonly, a set of wired in-ear monitors will be a much cheaper alternative to its wireless counterpart. So if you’re trying to save on money, and your desired application allows it; wired are definitely the way to go. Perfect if you’re looking for casual listening, or you’re a producer in the studio and don’t need to move around too much.
If you need something that’s going to let you roam free, wireless is the way to go. Often, you’ll be able to get away with one of the high-quality Bluetooth options. Although, if you’re a professional musician who performs on stage, you might be better off opting for a complete wireless system. That is if you need to sync your monitors to a pro mixer or soundboard. Comprising of a transmitter device, and a receiver pack which takes a radio signal from the transmitter and feeds it into the headphones.
The Round Up
So the question remains, what are the best In-Ear Monitors? Below, we’ll list just a few of our top picks that are perfect for producers and DJs, and all sold here at DJ City. From industry-standard brands such as Shure, Sennheiser, and Mackie. As well as including both wireless, and wired options.
1. Shure SE215 – Best Overall
As a leading brand in the pro audio industry, it’s no surprise to see a set of Shure earphones topping the list of in-ear monitors. Boasting both affordability and overall quality, the latest SE215’s deliver clear sound, deep bass, and enhanced noise isolation.
Each earpiece is powered by its own high-definition driver that delivers clarity across its 22Hz – 17.5kHz frequency range. While offering up to 37dB of passive noise isolation.
Plus, with the optional wireless module; the Shure SE215’s integrate seamlessly with your mobile devices. Making them perfect for all applications whether you’re a musician, vocalist, or audio engineer.
Opting for the wireless version of the SE215s gives you a detachable Bluetooth 5.0 cable featuring an in-line remote control and microphone. While supporting multiple high-quality codecs, and playing back your sound with zero latency. You’ll also get a kit of assorted sleeves to ensure a tight and comfortable fit. As well as a zippered case and charging cable for portability.
Finally, the SE215’s come in a colourway to match your style, with Clear, White, Red, or Blue options. They’re not high end, and with only one driver. But if you’re looking for an entry into the world of IEMs, they’re a very respectable choice.
Features (Based on the latest SE215 wireless version)
- A single dynamic driver in each earpiece produces a clear sound with deep bass down to 22 Hz
- Comfortable, sound-isolating sleeves block up to 37 dB of ambient noise
- Prevents outside noise from interfering with audio, whether on stage or on the go
- Ergonomic, flexible design
- Lightweight, low-profile shape with optimized nozzle angle is designed to rest comfortably in the ear
- Over-the-ear configuration keeps cables out of the way
- Bluetooth version 5.0 for wireless operation with most smartphones, laptops, and tablets
- Dedicated headphone amplifier delivers high-fidelity audio quality
- Internal battery provides up to 10 hours of playtime or up to 350 hours of standby time
- Supports Qualcomm aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, AAC, and SBC codecs
- In-line remote and microphone
2. Shure SE846 Wireless – Best Luxury Option
If you like the sound of the SE215’s but have more money to spend. Or you’re a professional looking for even better quality; then we can’t recommend the latest Shure SE846 enough.
Featuring Bluetooth for wireless use. The SE846’s are powered by four, balanced-armature high-definition MicroDrivers. With each specifically tailored to blend precisely with the others, delivering balanced, warm, and bright audio for enlightened listening.
Boasting an extended frequency response, you can expect stunning high-end clarity. While the groundbreaking lowpass filter gives you true subwoofer performance without sacrificing details.
On top of that, the Shure SE846 earphones are comfortable and ergonomic, with custom sleeves. Making your earphones feel better and stay securely in place. Built with the highest quality materials, all components are built to withstand professional, and performance level wear and tear.
Equipped for Bluetooth with three high-quality cables — the RMCE-UNI universal 1/8″ cable for Apple and Android devices, the RMCE-BT2 Bluetooth communication cable for wireless connectivity, and the EAC64CL 1/8″ cable for all other wired connections.
So although they sport a generic look, the SE846 offers amazing sound. In terms of sound reproduction, you can see why the audiophile crowd gravitates towards them.
Overall, the Shure SE846’s are a more expensive option. But are the perfect in ear monitor earphones to deliver the superior quality, isolation, and definition you need on stage or in the studio. Available in Blue, ating-earphones-w-bluetooth/” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Black, Bronze, or Clear
- Unparalleled listening experience with spacious sound and rich bass
- Includes 1/8″ stereo audio cable, universal 1/8″ cable for iOS and Android devices, and Bluetooth communication cable
- 4 balanced-armature drivers in a 3-way configuration
- Groundbreaking lowpass filter design delivers deeper bass without affecting midrange clarity
- Detachable, formable wire allows easy replacement, personalized comfort, and additional functionality
- Sound-isolating sleeves block outside noise and provide a custom fit
- Removable nozzles and detachable cable protect your investment
- 3 included nozzle inserts (balanced, warm, and bright) let you customize your frequency response
- Sweat-proof and built like a tank to Shure’s exacting professional standards
3. Sennheiser IE40 – Affordable
The most affordable option on the list, the Sennheiser IE40’s are an entry-level set of in-ear monitors. Perfect for bedroom producers and DJs looking to get their first pair of IEMs.
For such a good price point, the Sennheiser IE40’s deliver warm, powerful and precise sound; even in extremely loud environments. Ideal for mixing in the studio, the IE40’s offer high output, and a wide frequency reproduction. Also useful for musicians, vocalists, and audio engineers in clubs, concert venues, and houses of worship.
Sporting 10mm dynamic drivers, the IE40’s are capable of producing a 20hZ to 18Hz frequency response. As well as a maximum sound pressure level SPL of 115dB. All while maintaining phase coherency and low distortion.
Designed to be light and comfortable, the IE40’s offer up to 26dB of passive noise attenuation. Keeping unwanted sounds out of your ears, allowing you to focus solely on the mix. Complete with swappable foam and silicone ear tips, the IE4-s give you a secure and personalized fit.
Above all, a great option if you’re new to IEMs and are on a tight budget.
- 10mm Dynamic Drivers
- 20 Hz to 18 kHz Frequency Response
- 115 dB Maximum SPL
- Up to 26 dB of Passive Noise Attenuation
- Phase Coherent & Low Distortion
- Detachable 4.3′ Headphone Cable
- 3.5mm TRS Connector
- Lightweight, Compact Design
- Includes Foam & Silicone Eartips
- Includes Cleaning Tool & Soft Pouch
4. Mackie MP240
Another, more affordable option. The Mackie MP-240’s give you a set of hybrid dual-driver in-ear monitors. Offering enhanced sound isolation as well as full-range frequency reproduction. Making them perfect for musicians, vocalists, and audio engineers both in-studio and live stage applications. Powered by high-performance dynamic and balanced armature drivers in each headphone. The MP-240’s yield a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, with an emphasis on balanced bass and articulate upper frequencies.
Housed in a low-profile design with molded enclosures; they even give you up to 40dB of noise isolation. Allowing you to focus on the mix in front of you, hearing every nuance, without outside distractions. The detachable cable on the MP240 allows for easy storage and replacement. While they also come complete with foam, silicone, and double flange ear tips in multiple sizes. Ensuring you’ll find a perfect, and comfortable fit.
So if you’re looking for higher-than-average sound quality, yet less pressure on the wallet. The Mackie MP-240’s are a great set of In-Ear Monitors to consider
- Ergonomically designed in-ear monitors provide enhanced sound isolation and full-range frequency reproduction
- Single dynamic driver produces balanced frequency response of 20Hz–20kHz
- Ergonomic design offers 40 dB of noise isolation
- MMCX connectors allow the shielded, braided cable to be detached for easy storage or replacement
- Three different types of ear tips in three different sizes included
5. Mackie MP-460
Using high-quality balanced-armature drivers, the Mackie MP-460 is a set of in-ear monitors that features a quad driver design. Offering even more clarity and accuracy, you can be sure to enjoy a balanced sound, enhanced detail resolution, as well as incredibly smooth midrange. So whether you’re a musician or mixing engineer, the MP-460 will allow you to experience your music in a whole new dimension. However, they do come at a price. Sitting just over the $1000 dollar mark, the MP-460’s are a luxurious option definitely aimed at the professional musician!
- Ergonomically Molded Enclosures
- Low-Profile Design
- Quad Balanced Armature Drivers
- Up to 40 dB of Sound Isolation
The Final Word On The Best In Ear Monitors
So you’re looking for a new, perhaps even your first set of in-ear monitors? Then you won’t go wrong with any of the choices we’ve listed above.
In saying that, if you’re looking for quality and wireless capabilities, yet remain on a budget; we’d have to recommend the Shure SE215’s. These are the perfect option for home studio producers and DJs. However, if you’re looking for a more professional option, and have a little more flexibility in your budget. Then the Shure SE846 will give you both amazing, professional-level sound reproduction, combined with maximum comfort.