The 8 Best In-Ear Monitors of 2019

Keep tabs on your music mixes with these IEMs

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Shure SE215-K at Amazon

"They provide detailed sound with enhanced bass, meaning you’ll get a solid read on the spectrum."

Runner-Up, Best Overall: SIMGOT EM2 at Amazon

"With 10 ohms of impedance, 101dB of sensitivity and a distortion ratio as low as one percent of the 101dB, the performance specs alone are pretty impressive."

Best Wireless Kit: Shure P3TRA215 CL at Amazon

"Offers shelving EQ to allow for either bass boost/cut or treble boost/cut."

Best Value: MEE audio M6 Pro (2nd Gen) at Amazon

"Improves on the originals on sound quality by providing a more accurate midrange and a smooth treble response."

Best Budget (Non-Pro): Status Audio IEM-2X at Amazon

"There’s a three-button remote that allows volume adjustments, music control, and call answering."

Best Budget (For Pros): BASN BC100 at Amazon

"Provides solid sound up and down the spectrum, with an apparent emphasis on the part of the spectrum dedicated to vocals."

Best Frequency Response: TONEKING T88K at Amazon

"You’ll get coverage from 15Hz all the way up to 45kHz."

Best Build Quality: FiiO FH5 at Amazon

"Constructed of five-axis CNC machined aluminum-magnesium alloy, with multiple components meant to reduce resonance and distortion."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Shure SE215-K

Shure SE215-K

 Courtesy of amazon

As a brand that commands a high level of respect for live sound and microphone technology, it’s no surprise to see Shure topping our list for in-ear monitors. But even when you consider the field of musicians’ monitors alone, few offer quite the quality and track record as the SE215-Ks. At their core, they provide detailed sound with enhanced bass, meaning you’ll get a solid read on the spectrum. That’s carried through to the frequency spectrum, as these earphones cover 20Hz all the way to 17.5kHz — that seems to offer more low end than many of the competing IEMs that tend to be a little thin on the bottom end of the spectrum.

Another important factor with IEMs is the fit, and with a low-profile footprint and a downward-pointing shape, these should sit right in your ears comfortably. But, they also provide a tight amount of sound isolation, so you won’t get a whole lot of bleed from the outside. The detachable, Kevlar-reinforced cables have a snap lock that solidly locks them into the earbuds themselves, while also allowing you to remove them quickly. This is important with pro audio because it allows you to replace the cables, rather than the whole unit.

The single MicroDriver is perhaps the most interesting feature here, as Shure has opted for an engineered single driver system, rather than throwing double or triple drivers at it. With 20 ohms of resistance, this is on par with many other IEMs in the class. Your kit will include a soft carrying case, three sizes of ear tips, and you can choose between black, clear, or a translucent blue.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: SIMGOT EM2

If you’ve made the rounds on audiophile sites, you may have seen SIMGOT listed. They’ve made a name for themselves for IEMs in a way that no other brand with such a focused product set has. With 10 ohms of impedance, 101dB of sensitivity and a distortion ratio as low as one percent of the 101dB, the performance specs alone are pretty impressive. The manufacturer even promises a frequency range spanning from 15Hz to 40kHz — much wider than the actual spectrum a human can theoretically hear. The double dynamic driver setup isn’t anything super-crazy like you’ll find on some of the flashier quad-driver options out there, but compared with other dual-driver pro models like the Shures out there, the performance here should be pretty solid. The set comes with a 3.5mm silver braided aux cable that is detachable from the earbuds. You also get six pairs of silicone ear tips to find the right fit and a protective carrying case so you can toss them into your travel or tour bag.

Best Wireless Kit: Shure P3TRA215 CL

The most common professional use-case for a pair of IEMs is naturally going to be live, on-stage, typically for a singer to hear themselves while a raucous band is backing them up. While a wired IEM will provide you great sound and a level of affordability, it also tethers you to the board at a concert. A wireless system, if you have the budget, can give you some freedom while also maintaining sound quality. The SE215 IEMs themselves afford you detailed sound with a good amount of bass, up to 37dB of sound isolation, and a comfortable, customizable fit that should work well for most users.

The rugged, metal P3RA receiver pack that comes in this bundle not only offers you a convenient, belt-clippable place to plug in your headphones, but also shelving EQ to allow for either bass boost/cut or treble boost/cut. This allows you to customize the sound profile. The pack has a really bright LCD screen that shows you a good deal of information and also gives you the battery life in five segments.

There’s built-in scanning, to determine a clean frequency with IR sync, making sure you have a clear transmission. The single channel transmitter will send either a stereo or mono mix, and it will give you a solid connection in up to 300 feet. There’s a 24Hz tuning range, balanced TRS inputs and loop outputs, and even a removable antenna. It all amounts to a really versatile pack to get you started for your stage monitoring needs.

Best Value: MEE audio M6 Pro (2nd Gen)

It’s hard to categorize the M6 Pros between pro- or consumer-focused, and that’s quite possibly by design. First, the price point is right around $50, which means that if you are buying these for musicians’ purposes, then your expectations might be tempered. But as an all-around set, these could be a really nice sweet spot between premium and affordable. The 2nd gen improves on the originals on sound quality by providing a more accurate midrange and a smooth treble response. Those parts of the spectrum are important for vocal monitoring as they occupy the most crucial parts of the range for the human voice.

Plus, with MEE’s T-series memory foam ear tips, you’ll get decent sound isolation. Finally, with detachable cables, there’s solid repairability here. But, with a headset cable included in the box, and a somewhat consumer-looking design, it seems you might be happy with these even if you aren’t planning to take them on tour. What’s more, MEE will even let you customize them with an engraved-to-order nameplate (for an added premium). It’s a nice set of IEMs, as long as you aren’t looking for the absolute best in feature set.

Best Budget (Non-Pro): Status Audio IEM-2X

Status Audio has maintained a place in the headphone game after exploding onto the market a few years back with a Beats competitor. While their IEM-2X headphones can certainly be appreciated by musicians, they seem to be more aimed at those looking for an all-around set of earbuds, not just monitors for the stage. As dual-driver units, it’s surprising to see these at such a budget price point, but there’s both a 9mm main driver and a balanced armature driver. You see these setups, typically, in high-end pro monitors, so it’s nice to see them in this form factor.

There’s a three-button remote that allows volume adjustments, music control, and call answering, and anecdotally, the microphone on this remote seems solid. The machined aluminum build makes these headphones pretty rugged, giving them a good amount of portability and longevity. They cover 20Hz to 40kHz, offer 102dB of sensitivity, and 18 ohms of impedance, checking off all the boxes on the sound quality front. Weighing only 3.2 ounces, and coming complete with a pinchable soft pouch, these will be perfect options to toss into your go-bag. 

Best Budget (For Pros): BASN BC100

The BC Singer headphones from BASN are designed for singers to use on stage while monitoring their performances. The dual dynamic neodymium magnet drivers (one tweeter, one woofer) provide solid sound up and down the spectrum, with an apparent emphasis on the part of the spectrum dedicated to vocals. The detachable MMCX connectors are pretty standard for IEMs in this category, but this is actually a standout feature because it means if there is damage on the cable, you can just replace that, rather than having to replace an entire IEM unit.

There are adjustable memory ear hooks which, once bent to the right size, stay roughly at that size to make sure you get a solid fit, even after you’ve taken them off. Add that to the three different sizes of ear tips, and you’re sure to find a configuration that’ll work for you. These ear tips are made with medical-grade silicone, which BASN promises will offer a good deal of noise isolation. That fit is important because for a singer-focused IEM, you want to blot out as much sound as possible, so you can hear yourself and the mix, primarily.

Another great feature of these IEMs is that there are a bunch of different cable options, including an in-line mic/remote and even a Bluetooth setup you can add. This gives you great flexibility for a pretty reasonable price.

Best Frequency Response: TONEKING T88K

The T88Ks are true musicians’ IEMs, supported by a few pro-focused features. Their housing is pretty big, partly because they feature eight balanced armature drivers inside. This provides a really solid sound response, particularly when it comes to frequency response. You’ll get coverage from 15Hz all the way up to 45kHz. For perspective, the spectrum that is anatomically possible for humans to hear is 20Hz to 20kHz, so the T88Ks offer even more than is theoretically possible for humans to hear. This is really important for both musicians and audiophiles because it makes sure that all of the possible information in your track is transmitted through the headphones.

The drivers provide 110dB of sensitivity and an impedance of 16 ohms at 1kHz, which means that the full specs on these IEMs are up there with anything else in this premium price point. The cable is constructed of four strands of low-resistance, high-purity silver-plated copper that is coated in rubber and then braided for a really stable connection between your headphones into the source audio.

The package comes with two different pairs of foam tips, plus four pairs of silicone tips, a decent case for the headphones, and you can even opt for either a 2.5mm cable or 4.4mm cable. TONEKING is even offering more customization by emailing them with your order.

Best Build Quality: FiiO FH5

The FH5 IEMs from FiiO are clearly aimed at professionals…those looking for a solid, road-ready build with great sound and a powerful, even frequency response. Arguably the most important feature of in-ear monitors is the driver setup. These FH5s come with a quad driver design, featuring a 10mm polymer nanocomposite dynamic driver and three balanced armatures from Knowles. This means that there are multiple drivers designated for specific frequency bands, so you’ll get surprisingly crisp, clear performance across the spectrum.

But the build quality is the real standout here, as FiiO has employed what they’re calling a Trishell casing. It’s constructed of five-axis CNC machined aluminum-magnesium alloy, with multiple components meant to reduce resonance and distortion. But this also means that the shells are built like tanks.

They also employ the standard MMCX connectors, so even if those connections break on you, you can replace them without having to swap out the whole earbud units. This all amounts to a very musician-friendly product, both for sound quality and for durability.

Our Process

Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular in-ear monitors on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 to 30 different in-ear monitors overall, screened options from 8 to 10 different brands and manufacturers, read over 50 to 60 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 3 of the in-ear monitors themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.