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. This provides a far more accurate and immersive listening experience, as well as better noise isolation. For audiophiles and musicians, IEMs are a must-have – but prices can get prohibitive. Luckily, if you’re looking for a pair of IEMs that sound great and won’t break the bank, we’ve got you.
We’ve taken a look at some of the best IEMs under $500 to help you choose the right one for your needs. When choosing 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 to present our list of the best IEMs under $500!
Product Comparison Table: Best IEMs Under $500
|Best in class
|Shure SE215 PRO Wired IEMs
|Best Under $100
|DUNU TALOS 14.6mm Planar Driver in-Ear Monitors
|Best Under $200
|Linsoul 7HZ Timeless AE 14.2mm Planar HiFi in-Ear Monitors
|Best Under $300
|Moondrop Blessing2 1DD 4BA Hybrid Technology In-Ear Monitor
|Best Under $400
|Sennheiser Pro Audio In-Ear Audio Monitor
|Best Under $500
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 IEMS under $500.
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.
- Comes with case
- Competitively priced
- A legendary brand
- Not wireless or Bluetooth compatible (but comes with travel case)
Although the $100-and-below bracket comes with a few limitations, the Shure SE215 PRO Wired IEMs earn their place on our list of the best IEMs under $500 with brilliant capability for such a low price. Delivering on sound, comfort and durability at such an impressive price point is really something. 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 IEMs under $500 in the $200 stakes have some impressive specs for such a relatively low price bracket.
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 $200. Did we mention they’re really comfortable?
- Impressive specs (especially planar/hybrid mode switching)
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Competitive price
- Black and gold colorway is not for everyone
The DUNU TALOS 14.6mm Planar Driver in-Ear Monitors are among our best IEMs under $500 because of their impressive specs: if we listed them all, 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”.
Timeless by name, timeless by nature – and that’s why the Linsoul 7HZ Timeless AE 14.2mm Planar HiFi in-Ear Monitors are on our list of the best IEMs under $500. They offer an incredible sound quality, with fast response and excellent dynamic range and frequency characteristics, no matter if you’re playing Vivaldi or vaporwave.
What sets the 7HZ Timeless apart is their 14.2mm planar driver, which is the largest driver in this price range. Not only is it loud, but it’s clear too, and pairs beautifully with the 7HZ Timeless’s array of N52 magnets; all genres of music sound powerful and dynamic streaming out of the Timeless’s lightweight CNC-machined aviation-grade aluminum alloy shells. Audio distortion is absolutely nonexistent through these bad boys.
- Largest driver in this price range
- Timeless sound
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Garish color
- Glass backs = fingerprints
The sound of the Linsoul 7HZ Timeless AE 14.2mm Planar HiFi in-Ear Monitors would put them on our list of the best IEMs under $500 even in the highest price tier: lucky for you, they’re under $300! Our favourite feature of the 7Hz Timeless IEMs is their ability (probably thanks to the large driver) to reach incredibly high volumes without causing any discomfort or sibilance – sound through these just gets clearer as it gets louder.
If you’ve got $400 max to spend, the Moondrop Blessing2 1DD 4BA Hybrid Technology In-Ear Monitors are the best IEMs under $500 for you. They feature a 10mm dynamic driver for bass (known for its natural sound and excellent bass response); dual Knowles SWFK balanced armature drivers for treble (known for their low distortion and excellent high-frequency range); and proprietary dual mid-BA drivers for accurate and detailed mids. That’s three whole drivers – and an immersive sound comes with them.
This killer sound might also be down to the way the Blessing2’s 3D printed physical band pass & low pass filter ducts, and Resistor Capacitor, reduce unwanted resonances for a natural tone. But when you’re listening to sound this good, you’ll probably cease to ask how and why.
- Three precision-targeted drivers
- Hybrid crossover tech
- Fantastic sound
- Color options weren’t to our taste (anime girls, anyone?)
- Quite heavy and large
Crispy sweet highs, accurate mids, and a deep bass response put the Moondrop Blessing2 1DD 4BA Hybrid Technology In-Ear Monitors on our list of the best IEMs under $500. Their stunning performance also explains why the Moondrop Blessing 2 are some of the most popular IEMs on the market, and for good reason. If you’re deep down the IEM rabbit hole, you’ll be impressed that the Blessing2s are often talked about alongside the Campfire Audio Andromedas, at a fraction of the price!
The Sennheiser Pro Audio In-Ear Audio Monitors are our best IEMs under $500 in the top price tier for a reason. Yes, they feature less drivers than Blessing2s with just a single dynamic driver for bass with high-quality neodymium magnet, and dual balanced armature drivers for the mids and treble, but this combination performs true to the next-generation TrueResponse driver system Sennheiser have pioneered. The sound is stunningly immersive, with extremely high resolution and distortion-free sound, even at high SPLs – IOHO, this driver setup is more cohesive and seamless than fancy-fiddly crossover models!
It’s true that Sennheiser’s reputation for quality also comes with a particular sonic reputation, but this time, the “Sennheiser Veil” – rolled off from the upper midrange to the high treble – proves to be an empty stereotype. Moreover, the IE 500’s 3D printed faceplate, a stainless steel housing, and memory foam ear tips ensure you’ll be comfortable throughout your audio experience.
- Unbeatable sound performance
- No ‘Sennheiser Veil’
- Really comfortable
- Might just break the bank
Overall, the Sennheiser IE 500 are our best IEMs under $500 for anyone who is looking for a pair of IEMs that offer great sound quality, features, and value – with the Sennheiser mark of excellence. Of course, even our best IEMs under $500 at the very top end won’t be as detailed or wide in terms of soundstage than the most expensive IEMs Sennheiser offers, but the IE 500s certainly aspire to greatness!