The top 3 IEM's under $200 that everyone should own.
The line between good and expensive hi-fi audio becomes most blurred around and under the $200 mark. With some competitors punching far above their price class, utilizing technology that was once reserved for the $400+ range, this is the most competitive price range today and one that people are now expecting something exceptional from. The budget range will always be crowded and competitive if current times are an indicator for future trends, but if you want something that can truly compete with any iem out there, with some even being preferred over iem’s that are 3x or even higher than 4x the price, look no further.
These are 3 of the most class defining and unique iem’s that could be the 3 earphones to anchor your collection.
The IEM that helped start a movement of bringing moderately priced, Chinese made iem’s to the forefront in terms of sound quality, build quality and value. With users selling their Campfire Andromeda’s in favor of the DM6, an iem that’s priced at over $1000. The DM6 utilizes 5-Balanced Armature drivers, including Knowles drivers, known as the pinnacle of BA technology. Despite being a BA only iem, the bass is full with body, giving the speed and agility you except along with a depth that’s beyond impressive for BA drivers. The midrange gives a detailed, energetic expression with excellent separation that spans across all frequencies. Treble is bright and forward, giving the DM6 their defining sound signature as the highs are more elevated than the low and mid frequencies. If you’re looking for a highly detailed earphone that’s moderately priced as you venture into $200+ iem’s this is probably the best place to start and can end up being your favorite piece of audio equipment even if you own gear that’s much pricier. We have the DM6 in a wide array of colors and even offer customization; their build quality remains top in its class.
Soundstage is usually improved with driver count/type, but not always, but is perhaps the biggest strength as in this case the Spring 1 is a tri-hybrid iem with a Piezoceramic driver for the highs, Balanced Armature for mids, and Dynamic for the lows. This combination is tough to pull off using a crossover network to get all the drivers to work coherently and in conjunction with each other, instead of fighting against one another, losing separation and clarity. The Spring 1 does this as well as any IEM utilizing 3 types of drivers in any price range in which the mids sound natural and accurate with vocals being more forward. The sub-bass has good depth while the upper-bass is more elevated and presents excellent speed and punch, contributing to its wide soundstage. The high frequency is controlled by the Piezoceramic driver, and it does an amazing job here, giving you sparkly highs with great extension and an experience unique to the piezoceramic driver done right. Micro-details are heard across all frequencies, they’re a good all-rounder that provides a warm low-range, brilliant high-range along with a solid midrange that anyone can appreciate. If you like the idea of the different driver technology and are interested in something like the NX7 but are willing to spend a bit more, these will not disappoint.
Being one of the first low-priced iem’s to utilize Planar driver technology the P1 has the highly-resolving, detailed characteristics you expect from Planar driver headphones. Sound quality can match any in-ear or over-ear currently out, they will show you every detail, good or bad, exactly how they were recorded. Revealing is one of the best terms to express what you should expect from the P1’s. These are something unique that’s hard to classify or put in a specific category, while they don’t have an extremely wide soundstage they have you feeling like you’re in a movie theatre and every single sound, instrument and vocal is coming at you with perfect execution. They’re smooth, separated well and provide a natural stereo sound unlike anything else you’ve probably heard before. To get the full experience from the P1’s you’ll want a strong AMP/DAC to pair along with these, and even if you think pairing a more expensive DAC or DAP with a relatively low-priced iem doesn’t make sense trust us when we say it will be worth it in the end. The price to performance ratio is perhaps the best of anything out right now.
Honorable mention #4
The first affordable Electrostatic driver and when used in hybrids it’s being configured for the high frequencies; however, the Tape has excellent bass and extension also. The highs are crisp with details, an excellent soundstage and layering, if you’re unable to get a good AMP/DAC to pair with the TinHifi P1 this is a great alternative as it’s easier to drive, but is still different enough from the P1 to appreciate the unique experience provided by either one.
In the case of driver count contributing to soundstage, it doesn't always matter, such is the case with the KXXS being a single Dynamic Driver iem that has an amazingly wide soundstage with neutral Harmon tuning. The Starfield has a more intimate soundstage but with great width and depth, it’s warmer and more musically tuned than the KXXS with similar capabilities. Either are worthy of adding to your collection and offer an enjoyable experience with the single dynamic driver iems getting better across all frequencies.
The first 3 are listed in no particular order, some might find the P1 is their favorite, others may prefer the Spring 1 or even the Tape as the best on this list. They're all worthy of praise in their own ways, the toughest choice could be to settle for just one.
BGVP DM6: If you like all BA configurations or want to try one done very well with bright highs.
BQEYZ Spring 1: If you want an exciting sound and an all-rounder.
Tin P1: A unique experience that everyone should hear with insane details, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Shuoer Tape: Detail level similar to the P1 with enhanced bass.
Moondrop: Near neutral tuning, good Dynamic bass and wide soundstage.