The best in-ear monitors for an average demanding user are Shure SE215. See more of the best in-ear monitors for musicians, studio professionals, and regular users. We test and review headphones based on an independent 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more. Previous Next Rating Price AUX shape Connection Mic & Controls More info TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red Best under $100 4.5 Under $60 L-shape Wired – 3.5mm (removable cable) checkmark Review RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Best under $300 4.4 Under $240 I-shape Wired – 3.5mm, 2.5mm, 4.4mm cross Review Shure SE846 Best high-end 4.4 Under $1100 L-shape Wired – 3.5mm (Wireless adapter available) checkmark Review KZ AS16 Pro Amazing value 4.2 Under $60 L-shape Wired – 3.5mm (removable cable) Optional Review Shure SE215 Best for stage 4.5 Under $100 L-shape Wired – 3.5mm (Wireless adapter available) checkmark Review CCA LYRA Best cheap 4.3 Under $20 L-shape Wired – 3.5mm (removable cable) Optional Review KZ ZST Cheap alternative 4.4 Under $20 L-shape Wired – 3.5mm (removable cable) checkmark Review If you are looking for classic in-ear headphones at different prices, here’s the rundown. Some people refer to “in-ear monitors” as IEMs; it’s an abbreviation. They’re also known as in-ear headphones, floor monitors, earpieces, personal monitors, and they’re usually a part of professional monitor systems. CONTENTS (show more) What Are In-Ear Monitors? In-ear monitors are equivalent to studio monitor headphones but with a different design. They sit in the ear canal instead of the outside of the ear (like over and on-ear headphones). They are very popular with live musicians who can monitor their singing by listening to themselves while keeping the ability to move. Over-ear headphones are big and conspicuous. You can also use them either in recording or in a casual environment. In-ear monitor headphones have a lot of benefits for musicians. The engineer sends a monitor mix to each musician. You can hear the levels you need to keep you playing at your top potential. For example, you may wish to hear more of the drummer to keep your timing perfect. In the non-professional market, you see a lot of wireless in-ear monitors (also known as wireless earbuds). These are designed for more casual, daily use and focus on convenience. Some people opt for balanced armature monitors. These use a balanced armature driver, which can be tuned to specific frequencies, give more detailed sound, and can even act as a form of hearing protection. How Do In-Ear Monitors Work? In a stage setting, firstly, a mixer sends a feed to a wireless receiver. The receiver usually sits on a belt and connects to your in-ear monitors so that you can hear the sound. A monitor engineer in big productions does the monitor mix. However, on live shows, the live sound engineer may do this instead. By having custom in-ear monitors mixed separately, each member of a band can hear what they want. This aids their performance. Wireless systems for in-ear monitors also allow more freedom around the stage. In-ear monitors also keep the stage sound levels down. This means that you no longer need to use big, bulky stage monitors. This is good for your hearing. The echo can be a problem with in-ear monitor headphones and live performances. Echo cancellation is the answer. It works by monitoring the sound being played into the microphones and then comparing it to the sound originating from the far end. It can cancel out the sound it finds in both. This sound can only be coming from the far end. This sort of technology works on your smartphones, too. You can learn more about how to use in-ear monitors on stage here. Pros and Cons of In-Ear Monitors In-ear earphones and monitors have upsides and downsides. Most successful live musicians and bands use IEMs. However, it’s important to point out that not everyone can and that their use isn’t always suitable. PROS: IEMs allow you to get a personalized monitor mix In-ear headphones are much more flexible than over-ear headphones You don’t have to stay near a stage monitor, so you can walk around freely The stage noise is lower as a result of not having stage monitors Due to sound isolation, music is being sent straight to your ear canals, meaning a clearer sound In-ear earphones are more stable than classic earbuds CONS: You may not be able to hear crowd reactions as well The whole setup can be expensive You need a monitor mix to be done by an engineer or a live engineer You need more equipment, such as transmitters for your IEMs to work For most musicians and big tours, in-ear monitors are the way to go. For small club gigs, they might be an expensive overkill. Best In-ear Monitors and Headphones With Monitor Features 1. TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red BEST IN-EAR MONITORS UNDER $100 Best in-ear monitors under $100. Fanmusic TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Earphone Dual Dynamic Drivers in-Ear Earphone with 0.78 2Pin… Fanmusic TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Earphone Dual Dynamic Drivers in-Ear Earphone with 0.78 2Pin… $49.99 in stock 3 new from $49.99 3 used from $39.99 as of December 7, 2023 5:16 pm Buy now Amazon.com Beautifully made and excellently performing IEMs that represent a fantastic value for under $100. TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red review Connection: Wired 3.5mm Driver size: 10mm & 7.8mm dynamic Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz Type: In-ear monitors | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 17.5 ohms | Weight: 0.9 ounces (26 grams) with cable | Cable lenght: 4.1 feet (1.25 meters) | Features: Bass+ adapter Smooth & neutral tuning that goes with all music genres Comfortable & stable fit for long listening sessions Detachable cable & replaceable nozzle mesh extends durability Good overall passive noise isolation No option for cable with mic/controls support Hear the TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red A/B Sound Test: TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict ZERO:RED offer impeccable sound tuning for under $60, sporting a very neutral tuning. They’re just slightly boosted in bass and lack a bit of treble energy. You can add a few dB of bass using the included Bass+ adapter. Technical capabilities are also pretty good. Although, don’t expect to hear tiny microdetails. IEMs store 2 dynamic drivers, yet they only have 15 ohms of impedance (+10 ohms if you use the adapter). IEMs have beautiful red/black resin housing and a detachable cable with a 2-pin connector. The cord looks a bit thin and fragile, but since you can replace it, that isn’t that big of an issue. TRUTHEAR x Crinacle ZERO:RED review Check price For more options: see the best headphones under $100 or the best wireless earbuds under $100 for some Bluetooth solution 2. RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X MOST DETAILED IN-EAR MONITORS UNDER $300 Best in-ear monitors under $300. RAPTGO HOOK-X IEM In Ear Monitors earphones RAPTGO HOOK-X IEM In Ear Monitors earphones $193.00 in stock Buy now eBay RAPTGO Hook-X 14.2mm Open Planar Diaphragm Driver + PZT Driver HiFi in-Ear Earphone with… RAPTGO Hook-X 14.2mm Open Planar Diaphragm Driver + PZT Driver HiFi in-Ear Earphone with… $239.00 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Linsoul RAPTGO Hook-X 14.2mm Open Planar Diaphragm Driver + PZT Driver HiFi in-Ear Earphone with… Linsoul RAPTGO Hook-X 14.2mm Open Planar Diaphragm Driver + PZT Driver HiFi in-Ear Earphone with… out of stock as of December 7, 2023 5:15 pm Buy now Amazon.com If you’re looking for in-ear monitors with meticulous detail and design, these earphones could be for you. Sure they cost around $240, but their sound and design make them well worth buying. RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X review Connection: Wired 3.5mm & 2.5mm & 4.4mm Driver size: 14.2mm planar magnetic & piezoelectric driver Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz Type: In-ear monitors | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 15 Ohm | Weight: | Cable lenght: 4.1 feet (1.25 meters) | Features: Interchangeable connectors, removable cable Natural, controlled, and detailed sound Easy to drive even from a smartphone or laptop Replaceable cable with different connectors Made from high-quality build materials Comfortable & stable for everyday listening Great passive noise isolation for an open-back design Occasional sizzling treble (only on cymbal-intense tracks) No built-in mic or controls in the cable Hear the RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X A/B Sound Test: RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict The HOOK x HBB have a slightly V-shaped sound signature with a very detailed presentation. That makes them an excellent choice for either casual or critical listening. Everything, from bass to treble, shows fantastic control, tight imaging, and a decently sized soundstage. IEMs come with a braided, over-the-ear style cable that very sufficiently dampens microphonics. It has 2-pin connectors on one side, and 3 different AUX plugs on the other (unbalanced 3.5mm and balanced 2.5mm & 4.4mm). On top of that, the HOOK-X are built exceptionally well, with full metal housing and an open-back grill showcasing the planar magnetic driver inside (they also use a piezoelectric driver). RAPTGO x HBB HOOK-X review Check price 3. Shure SE846 BEST HIGH-END IN-EAR MONITORS Best high-end in-ear monitors. Shure SE846-CL Professional Sound Isolating Earphones with Quad High Definition MicroDrivers and… Shure SE846-CL Professional Sound Isolating Earphones with Quad High Definition MicroDrivers and… $809.00 $899.00 in stock 3 new from $809.00 1 used from $849.95 as of December 7, 2023 5:16 pm Buy now Amazon.com If you are a serious musician looking for seriously impressive quad-driver IEMs, these could be perfect for you. An incredible set of features and quality packed into a tiny package, but it comes at a price. Connection: Wired – 3.5mm Driver size: 4 balanced armature drivers Frequency range: 15-20.000Hz Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 9 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: 64 inch (1.6m) | Features: Detachable cable, optional wireless adapter Outstanding sound quality Great passive isolation (-37dB) Secure, comfortable fit Expensive The go-to IEMs for many pros. Quad drivers, quality design, and superb sound. The latter justifies the price. Four exceptional drivers, a low-pass filter, and the choice to amend and customize the frequency response make these some of the best-sounding monitors you’re likely to hear. Firstly, a detachable cable enables connectivity options. And the earphones have a -37 dB noise isolation capability for blocking out ambient stage noise. Furthermore, they offer a secure and comfortable fit and convenient carrying case for serious musicians. These are the standard-setting in-ears for many audiophiles. If you’re a serious musician and only high fidelity and clarity will do, go for the Shure SE846. Check price 4. KZ AS16 Pro AMAZING VALUE FOR UNDER $100 Best in-ear monitors under $60. KZ AS16 Pro In Ear Wired Earphones 16BA Balanced Armature HIFI Bass Monitor KZ AS16 Pro In Ear Wired Earphones 16BA Balanced Armature HIFI Bass Monitor $51.29 in stock Buy now eBay Linsoul KZ AS16 Pro 16BA Balanced Armature Drivers Earphones HiFi Bass in Ear Monitor Earphones… Linsoul KZ AS16 Pro 16BA Balanced Armature Drivers Earphones HiFi Bass in Ear Monitor Earphones… $73.00 $86.60 in stock as of December 7, 2023 5:05 pm Buy now Amazon.com KZ AS16 Pro are an affordable IEM with mind-blowing sound quality. KZ AS16 Pro review Connection: Wired – 3.5mm Driver size: 16 balanced armature drivers Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz Type: In-ear monitor | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Optional | Impedance: 18 Ohm | Weight: 0.52 oz (15 g) both buds | Cable lenght: 49.2 inch (125cm) | Features: Detachable cable, over-the-ear cable Outstanding sound quality for the price Comfortable & stable for mild exercise Great passive noise isolation, suitable for commuting Good build quality with detachable cables Optional microphone and inline controls Too bassy for some Cables aren't of the best quality Check the KZ AS16 Pro A/B sound test: KZ AS16 Pro Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict While 8 BA drivers in each earbud sound too much, it definitely delivers. The sound quality is fantastic for under $60, picturing details you never thought possible at this price. Expect very controlled audio performance from top to bottom that sounds surprisingly natural, albeit dark, due to boosted bass and rolled-off treble. Earbud’s casing is chunky but very comfortable. You can wear them all day without noticing any fatigue. And while they’re heavy, the over-the-ear cable helps distribute the weight. The cable is replaceable and uses 2pin connectors. Unfortunately, you might hear some cable noise if you plan to wear them outdoors. KZ AS16 Pro review Check price For similar models, check the best earbuds under $50. 5. Shure SE215 Best in-ear monitors for stage musicians under $100. Shure SE215SPE Pro Green Sound Isolating Earphones " CHRISTMAS SALE " Shure SE215SPE Pro Green Sound Isolating Earphones " CHRISTMAS SALE " $65.00 in stock Buy now eBay Shure SE215-CL Professional Sound Isolating Earphones with Single Dynamic MicroDriver, Secure… Shure SE215-CL Professional Sound Isolating Earphones with Single Dynamic MicroDriver, Secure… $89.00 $99.00 in stock 20 new from $89.00 as of December 7, 2023 5:06 pm Buy now Amazon.com shure se215-cl sound isolating earphones with single dynamic microdriver shure se215-cl sound isolating earphones with single dynamic microdriver $89.99 $99.00 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Goor stage in-ear monitors don’t have to be expensive. These popular Shure earbuds under $100 have some great features and sound. Connection: Wired – 3.5mm Driver size: n/a Frequency range: 22-17.500Hz Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise Cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Microphone only | Impedance: n/a | Weight: n/a | Cable length: n/a | Features: Detachable cable, optional wireless adapter Good sound quality Price-to-performance ratio Detachable cable Narrow soundstage If you like your sound bassy, these IEMs could be for you. Some in-ear headphones lose this, but these have a boost in the low end to keep you hearing the low frequencies clearly. The quality of these IEMs is excellent, and the sound-isolating eartips block out a lot of ambient noise, meaning you can hear the mix as intended. They have gold-plated MMCX connectors and a snapping mechanism, so you can rotate them to your preference. These earphones also have 3 different sizes of ear tips. They’re pretty lightweight and don’t sit too heavy in the ears, so you can cope with a whole concert wearing them. The original model is wired, but you can purchase an adapter that can give a 30 feet wireless range. Unfortunately, the adapter isn’t working that well, so stick with wires. Check price 6. CCA LYRA BEST IN-EAR MONITORS UNDER $20 Best cheap in-ear monitors. These earphones are your best choice for unmatched sound quality for below $20. CCA LYRA review Connection: Wired – 3.5mm Driver size: 10mm dynamic Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Optional | Impedance: 28 Ohm | Weight: 0.2 oz (5.5 g) per earbud | Cable lenght: 47.2 inch (120cm) | Surround sound: No | Features: Detachable cable Superb sound quality (for the price) Excellent stability due to over-the-ear cable Detachable cable Minimal microphonics Good comfort … … but not for all ears due to strange design Slightly cheap-feeling cable Hear the CCA LYRA A/B sound test: CCA LYRA Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict Cheap yet impressively clean and balanced-sounding IEM that wipes away the competition twice or triple the price. Earbuds are slightly boosted in the bass but retain good control and dynamics of the low end. For only $20, you get impressive clarity and detail, although the presentation isn’t the airiest. The LYRAs have a peculiar see-through design that contours a human ear. However, not all will find them comfortable for long listening sessions. At least you don’t have to worry about stability, which is superb thanks to over-the-ear cables. The latter are replaceable and use 2pin connectors. CCA LYRA review Check price 7. KZ ZST BEST DIRT-CHEAP IN-EAR MONITORS The best cheap in-ear monitors for musicians. Easy KZ Yinyoo ZST Colorful Hybrid Banlance Armature with Dynamic in-Ear Earphone 1BA+1DD HiFi… Easy KZ Yinyoo ZST Colorful Hybrid Banlance Armature with Dynamic in-Ear Earphone 1BA+1DD HiFi… $19.99 in stock 4 used from $18.47 as of December 7, 2023 5:06 pm Buy now Amazon.com KZ ZSN Pro X Dual Driver 1BA+1DD Hybrid Earphones HiFi in-Ear Monitor Earbuds KZ ZSN Pro X Dual Driver 1BA+1DD Hybrid Earphones HiFi in-Ear Monitor Earbuds $21.14 in stock Buy now eBay KZ ZST X Dynamic Hybrid Dual Driver in-Ear Headphones (Black Without Mic) KZ ZST X Dynamic Hybrid Dual Driver in-Ear Headphones (Black Without Mic) $22.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com If you’re on a really tight budget and want something cheap but decent, the KZ ZST monitors might surprise you with their quality. KZ ZST review Connection: Wired – 3.5mm Driver size: 10mm Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Yes (Optional) | Weight: 0.85 oz (24g) | Impedance: 16 Ohm | Cable length: 47.2 inch (1.2m) | Features: Detachable cable, 1 Dynamic + 1 BA Amazing value Great sound Removable cable Comfortable fit All-plastic construction For the price, the sound is fantastic. It’s tough to get such clarity at such an affordable price tag. The frequency response is great, the bass doesn’t go missing and has a nice punch, while highs are detailed without harshness. It’s a fun V-shaped signature that’s hard to find in even more expensive headphones. The KZ ZST in-ear headphones are actually pretty decent in spite of their low price. The detachable cable is a big bonus for a set of ear buds this affordable. 3 pairs of silicone ear tips help you find a comfortable fit though memory foam tips are better. The Hybrid Balance Armature drivers could be mistaken for more expensive IEMs. And, you wear these behind the ear, like Shure, so they stay comfy for hours. KZ ZST review Check price Honorable Mentions FiiO F9 Slightly V-shaped IEM that offers great clarity on top of impeccable comfort for long listening sessions. Check F9 price 1MORE Quad Driver Solid quad-driver in-ear monitors that are a bit older today. But still a solid choice. They have a beautiful aluminum finish and plenty of accessories. With 4 drivers produce a detailed and natural sound, but they’re not perfect. More in the review. 1MORE Quad Driver Review MEE Audio Pinnacle P1 Tough wired earbuds made of zinc alloy housing, paired with removable MMCX cables for extra durability. You must pair them with appropriate foam tips to get the best sound. That softens and opens their sound at the same time, providing you with impressively dynamic performance. Check Pinnacle P1 price MEE Audio M6 PRO The MEE Audio M6 PRO have decent features without breaking the bank. If you need an affordable option with good sound quality, go for the MEE Audio M6 PRO. Check M6 PRO price More earbud guides: Best noise cancelling earbudsBest cheap earbuds Ben J.Ben Jacklin is a musician and has a qualification in music technology. He plays a guitar and bass and teaches others how to play. He’s tested different musical equipment, including headphones that he uses during his work.