What do we mean by “IEMs”? In-ear monitors (IEMs) and earbuds are both small, portable audio devices that are inserted into the ear, but where earbuds in fact rest on the ear, IEMs, or in-ear monitors, are inserted directly into the ear canal. The IEM provides a far more accurate and immersive listening experience, as well as better noise isolation. For audiophiles and musicians, IEMs are a must-have. However, prices can get prohibitive – up to thousands of dollars for the very finest pair. Luckily, if you’re looking for a pair of the best budget IEMs that sound great and won’t break the bank, we’ve got you.
We’ve taken a look at some of the best budget IEMs under $300 to help you choose the right pair for your needs. When choosing the best budget IEMs, there are a few things you’ll want to consider; sound quality is obviously the most important factor, but you’ll also want to make sure that your new IEMs are built well and are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Without further ado, let’s take into consideration these factors and more and present to you our list of the best budget IEMs!
Product Comparison Table: Best Budget IEMs
|Best in class
|Linsoul 7Hz Salnotes Zero HiFi 10mm Dynamic Driver in-Ear Earphones
|Best Under $25
|BASN Bsinger PRO in Ear Monitor Headphones
|Best Under $50
|Moondrop Aria High Performance LCP Diaphragm Dynamic Driver IEMs
|Best Under $75
|Shure SE215 PRO Wired IEMs
|Best Under $100
DUNU TALOS 14.6mm Planar Driver in-Ear Monitors
|Best Under $200
Seeing as the price of great-sounding in-ear monitors can quickly exceed the thousand-dollar mark, the idea of our list of the best budget IEMS beginning with a $25 bracket might seem fanciful. Of course, you won’t get mind-blowing sound from IEMs this cheap, but the Linsoul 7Hz Salnotes Zero HiFi 10mm Dynamic Driver in-Ear Earphones
get close to achieving the impossible.
Linsoul is an established brand among audio enthusiasts, so it’s not surprising that they produced the best budget IEMs we found in the $25-and-under category. Although the noise-cancelling here is pretty rudimentary, the metal composite diaphragm inside the Salnotes Zero model enhances sound reproduction enough to satisfy most listeners with clear enough mids, crisp-ish highs, and surprisingly impactful bass. They’re not anything to write home about, but these IEMs get the job done for practice or bedroom mixing.
- Lightweight and portable
- Detachable OFC cable
- Good for first-timers
- Limited noise-cancelling
Any IEM first-timer, amateur musician or learner audio technician will find the HLinsoul 7Hz Salnotes Zero HiFi 10mm Dynamic Driver in-Ear Earphones more than agreeable, whatever their inadequacies; especially if you just want to give IEMs a try for the first time. What’s more, the detachable OFC cable gives you a choice in terms of the optional integrated microphone.
BASN offer a range of IEMS – definitely coming out top in terms of variety – but we like their $50-bracket for the best budget IEMS: the BASN Bsinger PRO in Ear Monitor Headphones. The dual dynamic drivers deliver clear vocals, highs, and mids, aggressive attack and slow decay that works fantastically for musicians and critical listeners – even at this modest price point.
Again, the noise isolation technology is mostly down to the shape of the IEM unit, but ambient noise is managed much better here due to BASN’s expertise in the area. Like the Linsoul Salnotes, the BASN BSinger PROs also offer a few other cable-based options to choose from: an integrated microphone call remote and volume control cable, a silver-plated woven cable, and a 4.9 feet long 3.5mm jack memory cable that forms around the ear for comfort.
- Strong drivers
- Comfortable wear
- Surprisingly good noise isolation
- Not the most durable
For a sub-$50 price tag, the BASN Bsinger PROs offer excellent fidelity and a pretty flat sound; hen you’re using them, it’s easy to believe that you’re using a piece of far more expensive equipment, which is the true mark of the best budget IEMs!
If you’ve got $75 max to spend, the Moondrop Aria High Performance LCP Diaphragm Dynamic Driver IEMs are the best budget IEMs for you by far. They feature 10mm diameter dual-cavity magnetic high-performance dynamic drivers (known for —–); Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragms (known for their great transient response and hi-res sound); and all-new Waveguide tech that reduces the distortion caused by high-frequency phase interference. All this makes the sound smoother, more delicate in the treble, and… natural-er.
This killer sound might also be down to the way the Aria’s N52 neodymium magnet internal magnetic circuits, patented anti clogging filters, or metal injection-molded ergonomic design that’s highly compliant with HRTF (or Head Related Transfer Function). But when you’re listening to and recording sound this good, you’ll probably cease to ask how and why.
- Signature Moondrop performance
- All-new precision technology
- Fantastic sound
- Color options are limited (we hope you like black and gold)
The Moondrop Aria High Performance LCP Diaphragm Dynamic Driver IEMs earn their place on our list of the best budget IEMs. Their stunning performance also explains why the Arias are some of the most popular IEMs on the market – now back from discontinuation by popular demand. If you’re deep down the IEM rabbit hole, you’ll be impressed that the Arias are pretty close in sound to the beloved Blessing2s for a fraction of the cost!
Legend tells that Elvis Presley was a famous fan of the Shure brand. However, an endorsement from the King is not the only reason the Shure SE215 PRO IEMs turned out among our best budget IEMs. They also perform beautifully enough to satisfy even the most Suspicious Minds.
Road-tested by professional musicians, these IEMs provide detailed sound with enhanced bass for both professional monitoring and personal listening; this is thanks to a single, vented balanced armature driver that delivers a great full-range sound. The SE215 PROs’ sound isolating technology blocks up to 37 dB of noise with a traditional over-the-ear design that ensures earphones stay in place and the (potentially annoying) cables remain out of the way – even though they’re double-reinforced and tangle-free. We’ve got a Burning Love for these ones.
- Designed for musicians
- Effective noise isolation and sound
- A legendary brand
- Not wireless or Bluetooth compatible (but comes with travel case)
Although even the best budget IEMs inevitably come with a few limitations, the Shure SE215 PRO Wired IEMs earn their place on our list of the best budget IEMs under $300 with brilliant capability and musician-friendly performance. Delivering on sound, comfort and durability is really something to get All Shook Up about. What’s more, Shure’s stellar brand reputation means you’ll be in good company with Elvis himself.
Hold onto your hat (and guitar), because things are about to get technological. Our best budget IEMs in the top-grade under $300 stakes have some impressive specs to justify their higher (but not unaffordable or unjustifiable) price tag! This is the point where we can start to hear phrases like “monocrystalline”, “high-clarity” and “planar tuning” – and the beautiful sounds that come with them.
Introducing the DUNU Talos IEMs: dual custom-tuned balanced armature driver units for excellent clarity and resolution in the high frequencies, precisely crafted aluminum alloy cavities for a natural sound response, a high-purity silver-plated monocrystalline stock cable for a high-efficiency signal transmission with low coloration.… Not to forget we’re talking about a 14.6mm planar magnetic driver that delivers an incredibly detailed and immersive soundscape – especially for a still-budget price point. Did we mention they’re really comfortable?
- Impressive specs (especially planar/hybrid mode switching)
- Lightweight and comfortable
- High-quality material construction
- Again, limited black and gold colorway is not for everyone
The DUNU TALOS 14.6mm Planar Driver in-Ear Monitors finish off our best budget IEMs under $300 list because of their impressive specs: if we listed every tiny sound-enhancing detail, they’d probably take over this whole article. However, our favourite is the planar tuning mode accessible by the switch on the side, which inspires words like “relaxing” and “sparkly”.