Today we have decided to review the top 8 best In-Ear Monitors in 2020 for you.
Firstly, Wired vs Wireless. The first question you will be faced today when it comes to buying any in-ear monitors is if it’s really worth getting a wireless model?
These wireless modes are pretty much the norms these days in the earphone and the headphone industry.
But when it comes to monitoring or critical listening, a wired model will still provide you with a better performance. Especially for the price they come at.
Wireless models may be pretty attractive since you aren’t tied with a cable.
For monitoring purposes though you will be emotionally at your desk. So, there is not a lot of upside to that without versatility.
Secondly, drivers. There are some different constructions and drivers inside IEMs these days and each of them carries some distinct advantages.
For example, you might find dynamic drivers in some in-ear earphones that come with a super small tweeter or woofer in them with the included diaphragm.
They are generally from 8 to 11 millimetres large in diameter and work wonders.
Balanced armatures and hybrids are up next which deliver a U-shaped armature that works wonders when it comes to punching and power.
However, they lack a solid base when working alone. So, they are often paired with different ones.
There are also plain or magnetic drivers or even electrostatic ones.
And thirdly budget. The budget is very important here since the higher you go in the price range, the better the performance and sound quality.
However, it’s not always the case and you can’t get great value for the price.
We recommend you sticking to the mid-range price point to get the best out of it.
For most up to date prices and all the details, be sure to click on the “Check Price on Amazon” button as these things might go on sale anytime.
The Best In-Ear Monitors in 2020
We are going to start this list with the best budget option that you can get your hands on.
1. KZ ZS10 Pro
First, we have the KZ ZS10 Pro in-ear monitors which are going to kick off this list with one of the most interesting in-ear monitors out there.
And the KZ ZS10 Pro are pretty much excellent and come from around, that’s a bit non-traditional with their approach.
These in-ear monitors carry a compact package, practical design and a great monitoring grade soundstage, tons of depth, tonal signature and many more features that you can’t find anywhere else in this price range.
Starting from the build and design of these best IEMs, the KZ ZS10 Pro is pretty interesting indeed rather unconventional when you look at it.
However, they are designed to be very functional. They are a bit larger than general and have a metal faceplate on the outer part that adds a bit of a shine to the industry standard.
We can see why there are a lot of fans with these in-ear monitoring earphones and they are very well thought-out.
They have metal nozzles and a nice transparent plastic shell. Great build quality, durability for ages and a solid futuristic design.
Moving on, we have to talk about the immense comfort levels of the best budget in-ear monitors, the KZ ZS10 Pros.
We have got the feedback from multiple people around the office and on top of that I have spent a significant amount of time with these in my ears and due to the way they are shaped, we don’t think that they will bother you at all.
The ear tips of these in-ear monitors also convey tons of sound isolation and they have a very unique cable going on. Now, for calls going on with a braided design. Strange yet convenient!
For the sound quality and performance that’s needed for monitoring, the KZ ZS10 Pro utilizes a hybrid driver setup.
These in-ear monitors for drummers and musicians come with a dynamic driver and four balanced armatures for each of the channels. The impedance rating of the earbuds is a solid 24 ohms and the sensitivity is amazing at 111 decibels.
The frequency response range spans seven to forty thousand hertz which is flawless.
The soundstage is very wide and very balanced with great imaging and instrument separation is just superb. Especially for the price of these best in-ear monitors.
If you want a model for outdoor use then this next pick is a great option.
2. BLON BL03
Next, we have the BLON BL03, another very affordable in-ear monitor headphone on our list.
These in-ear monitoring earbuds despite being budget or entry level models provide you with a lot of quality accessories, performance and so much more for musicians and performers. Something that we don’t often see in this category.
Let’s talk about the inside of the package of the BLON BL03. It includes the ear pieces, a removable cable, three packs of silicone eartips in different sizes and a small fabric bag to keep the accessories in.
We should state that the BLON BL03 is made in China and the package is more than its fair share of bad translations. So, we wouldn’t rely much on the user manual and what’s written on the package.
These budget in-ear monitoring earbuds themselves have the droplet design with a summit part rocking the 2 pin connector for the cable.
The whole thing is made out of metal with a shiny polished metallic finish.
These best budget in-ear monitors look pretty organic with nice lines and a very soothing contemporary aesthetics. Something that a lot of people dig these days including us.
The build quality is also excellent for these in-ear monitor systems for the price that they come at.
One thing that annoyed us about these in-ear monitors is that they are a little hard to put in and get out of your ear.
But that doesn’t mean that the comfort levels are bad. Since, they are pretty good overall.
It’s just a bit hard until you learn how the process goes.
And top of that, we would recommend getting a pair of aftermarket foam eartips with a larger size to get the best fit and comfort.
We didn’t have a lot of expectations from BLON BL03 in-ear monitors but surprisingly it did emit a lot of quality for the price.
It’s very balanced with the most natural tuning, single dynamic drivers did a good job with this frequency response range that spans from 20 to 20,000 hertz.
The impedance rating is 32 ohms and the sensitivity is 102 decibels.
We should state that the soundstage of these budget in-ear monitors is large for its nature and the imaging is rather impressive. Great piece of monitoring earbuds if you want something in the budget.
Next up, we have a model which gives you the best value for your money.
3. Sennheiser IE 40 PRO
Our next product is the Sennheiser IE 40 PRO. If you want to get the most value for your hard earned dollar, we recommend you to invest in the Sennheiser IE 40 PROs when it comes to in-ear monitoring.
If you know anything about Sennheiser then you know that they always deliver perfect quality, balanced soundscape clarity dito and neutrality and this one doesn’t disappoint either.
Also, for the price they come at, you can’t beat them.
The Sennheiser IE 40 PRO aren’t your traditional Sennheiser Pro headphones. You probably won’t see them in electronic shops but most likely in a music shop because they are gaining popularity with music professionals which we will talk about later.
These in-ear monitors have a pretty interesting design that works rather well with advice, it’s supposed to go over the ear and straight down.
It’s supposed to be molded to get the shape of your lobes to fit better.
It’s pretty good for what it is made for but it might not be the best option for commuters and joggers.
You can remove the cables of these in-ear monitoring headphones though with a customized version the MMCX pronged cable terminals with the sound sheath of the pin connector.
So, if the cable gets worn or damaged, you can replace it with a replacement model Sennheiser or an aftermarket model.
They also don’t have any fancy features like noise-cancellation or Bluetooth but they are plug and play.
We should state that in the package you will spot three pairs of silicone tips, there are foam tips and the basic carrying case.
At this price range, a Sennheiser lineup you will find the Momentum earbuds but they are more consumer focused.
However, these best value in-ear monitors are more pro-grade and they produce a precise and spare sound that’s pretty clinical.
Then again at this price point you can’t expect the most accurate monitoring experience and yet these ones are pretty good.
There is no sweetening or warmness in them and if you are looking for an in-ear monitor that will render you the most bang for your buck, this is it.
Noise cancellation is very important and this next model has the best noise-cancelling capabilities.
4. Shure SE215
Next, we have the Shure SE215, coming in our list, we have a great pair of in-ear monitoring earphones that will provide immense experience.
These monitoring earphones afford great passive noise-cancellation with a great isolation, super wide soundstage, plenty of bass, great mids, nice trebles and overall give pretty pleasing in-ear monitoring experience that we are looking for.
This is also an excellent pick when it comes to the time to step up from the throw away earbuds that come in your phone’s package.
This was a major upgrade for those and like we said in the beginning, these are not earbuds but earphones, like a proper pair of them.
They are a tad bit larger as they need to accommodate the extra hardware needed to achieve performance.
Also, like a proper pair, they are designed to go deep in your ear to achieve great noise isolation.
These best in-ear monitoring earphones have a plastic translucent body which is pretty good overall and looks pretty much like hearing assistance devices.
The cable of the device is detachable though and it’s one of the traits that is becoming more common in the industry.
However, the cable on it is also one of the best we have seen in terms of quality overall.
As you notice there aren’t any controls on the device.
In the package of the Shure SE215 in-ear monitoring earphones, you will spot a zip up case and replaceable earpieces in different sizes so you can find the perfect fit.
The Shure SE215 presents a great sound performance that comes as a result of their excellent drivers packed in them.
The sound signature is a bit more neutral but still very versatile at conveying the breath of fresh air from different genres.
But again they are more designed for monitoring purposes rather than consumer listening.
The frequency range was very solid overall with no bleeding and you get an accurate response from these monitoring earphones.
It’s safe to say that these earphones are just excellent.
Next up, we have the highest end model that you can get your hands on. It costs more than the rest but it does do its job extremely well.
5. Shure SE846-CL
Next, we have the Shure SE846-CL, one more model from Shure on our list but this time around we have some of the most expensive in-ear monitoring models in the market.
If you can afford these super high-end in-ear monitors then you are definitely in for super stunning detail, perfect tonal balance, dynamics for ages, comfort and overall a flawless 10 out of 10 performance.
There is something interesting about these IEMs because they deliver the best performance out there in a super small package.
However, compared to most in-ear earbuds or earphones for singers or musicians out there, these are quite large because inside of them are four drivers, four four for each ear that is.
This is because the Shure SE846-CL uses balanced armature drivers that can’t quite recreate enough bass frequency alone. So, the company packed four of them in.
The Shure SE846-CL, the name stands for the clear casing which allows you to see everything inside.
These musician earphones are designed to go over your ear and in with their molded shape to fit better on your ear and give great noise-cancellation and comfort.
Sure, you can wear them directly in your ear but they won’t feel as good. You will need to fiddle a bit to get the best performance possible.
In the package of the Shure SE846-CL, you will spot a lot of ear tips in different sizes and types including classic olived shape silicone, triple flags and foam tips.
The cable is also detachable and there is a small bag included in the package.
Coming to the most important part, the sound quality of these in-ear monitoring headphones is pretty much perfect overall.
Tremendous bass, solid mids, plenty of power and authority.
The drivers really managed to offer us a super balanced performance and neutral response.
We were particularly impressed with the transition in between bass and mid range which was super smooth of these in-ears for musicians.
The low pass filter and it also does an amazing job overall.
However, to get the best performance from these you definitely need to opt for a dedicated amplifier.
6. KZ ZST
Next, we have the KZ ZST. These are a dual driver pair of in-ear monitoring earphones. You have one balanced armature driver in the front and one dynamic driver in the back.
The dynamic driver focuses on the lower end frequencies and then the balanced armature driver in the front focuses on the higher end frequencies.
So, you get some instrument separation with these IEMs for musicians and singers.
Let’s first start with the sound. So, the highs, mids and lows are nicely balanced and have a nice booming bass with these monitoring earphones as well as some detail within the highs.
These are slightly on the brighter side but not overwhelmingly bright.
The soundstage and instrument separation are very good on these giving you a very nice and immersive sound experience.
So, overall these are a great sounding pair of in-ear monitor earphones.
Just make sure you are using the correct ear tips with these IEMs in order to get that perfect seal that you would need in your ears in order to get that full potential sound on these in-ear monitors for singers.
So, again if you plan on getting these make sure to get them with a good pair of the eartips because the eartips that KZ ships out with these earphones are very subpar.
The KZ ZST best in-ear monitors have plastic shells. Originally when we first got them they were very glossy but the gloss eventually peeled off.
Now, one thing we would mention related to cable is that if you wanted to turn these into a Bluetooth earphones, they do sell an OEM KZ Bluetooth Adapter that you can essentially turn these earphones into a pair of Bluetooth earphones.
However, the Bluetooth adapter is not amazing but it definitely gets the job done.
Overall, a great pair of in-ear monitoring earphones for the price and we definitely recommend you get yourself a pair of these
7. KZ AS10
Next we have the KZ AS10 IEMs who have an extremely pronounced bass and we are talking about really loud.
It kinda feels like you are punched in the air drum. But seriously all jokes aside, the bass is really punchy.
Maybe even a little bit too punchy. Definitely for the extreme bass heads out there.
For the highs, these best in-ear monitors are also somewhat pronounced making these a bit brighter sounding but not at all overwhelmingly bright.
There is no noticeable sibilance so thumbs up for that and the vocals sound nice and smooth.
Now, for the mids, those are pretty much balanced, instrument separation is very good and the soundstage is pretty good too.
The KZ AS10 have a very ford presentation as opposed to a laid back presentation which actually even accentuates the bass on these even more. Especially at higher volume levels.
They have got all plastic shells. The front panel is transparent while the bottom is not. So, you won’t be able to see the drivers in these but you will be able to see the circuit board which is supposedly a frequency divider board.
That essentially divides the highs, mids and lows to the BA drivers.
Moving down to the nozzle of this best in-ear monitor system for the money, you will see that it’s not covered by a grill but instead the grill has been moved all the way down to the chamber.
Now, this also means that if the nozzle grill is all the way back there then, the drivers have also been pushed at the back there as well.
The cable that these ship out with is basically the now, new standard KZ 2 pin removable braided cable with a bendable wire ups that terminate with the L-shaped 3.5 millimetre jack.
Now, for some of the specs. So, this is an all be a driving pair of in-ear monitoring earphones and you have got 5 balanced armatures drivers in each earphone. Giving you a total of 10 drivers.
And again, they all are balanced armature drivers. There are no round dynamic drivers in these in- ear monitoring earphones at all.
Instead you have one big VA driver for all the lows which is it responsible for that extremely punchy bass.
Then you have got one independent BA driver for the mids along with another shared BA driver between the mids and highs.
And then another two independent drivers for the highs.
8. Mackie MP-220
When choosing an set of in-ear monitors, the number of drivers is a significant metric to consider.
Budget models tend to offer only one, leaving the burden of reproducing every bass, made in treble frequency to one single driver.
Explore a bit higher up the range and you will see why separating these out is important.
The Mackie MP-220 in-ear monitors is a great example. By employing two drivers, one for highs and one for lows. The sound quality has improved immensely.
A snug fit from the IEM provides good isolation too, making these an ideal first proper setups for any budding performer.
The sound separation is good for the price and sturdy build quality also does not disappoint at this price point giving a great overall value.
However, once you have tried two drivers you will want more.