8 Best Budget IEMs (Under $100) In 2022

Searching for a perfect IEM (In Ear Monitor) can be a hard task. From different models to different drivers and different formats – the experience can be quite overwhelming. Hence, we have tried to make it that much easier by selecting the best IEMs at a fraction of the price.

Enjoy high quality sound from these best budget IEMs under $100 and explore great music all over again.

Best Budget IEMs (under $100) Summary Table

IEMDriverImpedanceSensitivity
Fiio FD3Dynamic28 Ω111 dB
iBasso IT00Dynamic16 Ω106 dB
BLON BL-05sDynamic32 Ω108 dB
Fiio JH3Dynamic28 Ω106 dB
HZ Sound Heart MirrorDynamic32 Ω106 dB
KBEAR RobinDynamic18 Ω110 dB
Moondrop AriaDynamic32 Ω122 dB
SoundMAGIC E11CDynamic42 Ω112 dB

Be sure to check out our best budget audiophile headphones guide.

Fiio FD3

FiiO FD3 Review | Headfonics Audio Reviews

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Key Features

Driver: 12 mm dynamic driver, DLC diaphragm and acoustic prism
Sensitivity: 111dB/mW
Impedance: 28 Ohms
Cable: 4 core, MMCX, monocrystalline copper

Performance

The bass has very good extension with the lowest frequencies reproduced with clarity and high resolution and with good transient attack. The timbre is very natural and there is a satisfying weight to the notes. There is a healthy dose of rumble in the sub-bass, a lively kick in the mid-bass and only a minor bleed into the midrange.

The midrange displays a natural timbre with a warm cast. Cellos and pianos have an attractive woody tonality, brass comes over with good bite and attack and woodwind instruments retain their individual character. Strings are reproduced with a silky quality and very good separation. Male vocals have the requisite warmth and female vocals are clear and well defined. Musicality and smoothness are the keywords.

The treble is deceptively extended and detailed with a total absence of harshness, peaks or sibilance, resulting in a relaxing and smooth delivery which is musically satisfying. The separation and timbre is very adept and it is easy to sit back, close your eyes and enjoy the music.

The FD3 has a wide, three-dimensional and almost holographic staging filling the space between and indeed, beyond the ears with a broad panorama of sound and atmosphere. Layering and separation are very evident and imaging is precise with a good representation of stereo movement.

This cinematic style of presentation suits large scale classical works and electronic soundscapes very well but at the same time, more intimately recorded pieces display appropriate scale.

Pros

  • Superb staging
  • Impressive bass
  • Open midrange
  • Clear treble
  • Good accessories

Cons

  • Nothing at the price

IBasso IT00

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Key Features

Driver: 10 mm dynamic driver (multi-layered graphene diaphragm incorporated in a unique dual Helmholtz resonators driver)
Sensitivity: 106 +/- 2 dB
Impedance: 16 Ω
Cable: MMCX

Performance

The iBasso iT00 offers a very tonally pleasing sound rooted in a rich and hefty sub-bass, balanced midrange and laidback treble. Owing to its superior magnetic flux and dynamic drive design, the bass is rich and prominent lending some warmth to the overall tonal profile.

There is a mild u-shaped imposition in the midrange creating a good sense of space and scale. While there is an upstroke of the upper midrange frequencies, the IT00 is devoid of stridencies and fatigue.

The treble is overall smooth and laidback contributing to the overall organic sound. As a result, the IT00 is versatile across a variety of genres.

Pros

  • Natural sound profile
  • Rich and responsive bass

Cons

  • Not the most extensive treble

BLON BL-05s

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Key Features

Driver: 10mm dynamic, nano carbon diaphragm
Sensitivity: 108 dB/mW
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Cable: 2 pin, OFC silver plated

Performance

The general profile is a mild V or L shape. Bass is deep with the emphasis more on the sub-bass which is somewhat elevated above the rest of the range. The transition to the mid-bass and lower mids, is even and smooth with no bass bleed.

The midrange has a natural timbre and sometimes shows a little extra brightness in the upper region. The lack of bass bleed allows the midrange to breathe, improving the soundstage and generating more detail. The stereo imaging is exceptionally wide and deep.

The high frequencies on the BL-05s are bright, extended and provide a copious amount of detail. The lower region is slightly warmer than the upper region. The presentation is generally smooth and free of disturbing peaks.

The BL-05s displays a wide, deep and spacious staging. Separation and instrumental positioning are notable, with stereo imaging being particularly effective, producing a holographic effect.

Pros

  • Excellent all-round timbre
  • Powerful sub-bass
  • Transparent mids
  • Clear treble
  • Massive soundstage
  • Excellent stereo effect

Cons

  • Occasional sharpness in treble
  • Bass can be overwhelming for some

FiiO JH3

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Key Features

Driver: 13.6mm dynamic driver, 2 custom BA
Sensitivity: 106 +/- 2 dB
Impedance: 28 Ohms
Cable: 2 pin, monocrystalline copper

Performance

The JH3 has a lively, dynamic sound. The overall profile is a gentle W shape, just on the bright side of neutral. The bass is somewhat elevated with a solid sub-bass displaying good “rumble” and a punchy mid-bass full of energy. The definition and speed is very good. The timbre is natural with a touch of warmth and the resolution and extension are notable.

The midrange is clear and expressive, showing a gradual rise from the boundary with the bass region and receives just a little extra warmth from the bass. The presentation is a little forward, resulting in an overall “W” profile and there is plenty of detail on offer with above-average clarity and a natural timbre.

The treble is bright, energetic and highly detailed. There is a excellent separation and layering unexpected at the price, and a satisfying musicality with an addictive rhythmic character. Detail retrieval is outstanding with the finest and most subtle elements clearly audible. Occasionally, the JH3 flirts with harshness but this is infrequent and only occurs with certain genres and at high volume.

The soundstage displays excellent layering and separation and precise imaging and is expansive in all three dimensions with the reproduction of studio effects such as reverb and phasing particularly well-rendered.

Pros

  • Lively immediate sound
  • Powerful bass
  • Good detail
  • Extensive staging

Cons

  • Occasional sharpness in treble
  • Stage flattens in climaxes

HZ Sound Heart Mirror

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Key Features

Driver: 10mm dynamic, nano carbon diaphragm
Sensitivity: 106 dB/mW
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Cable: 2 pin, OFC silver plated

Performance

The bass is neutral and and somewhat reduced in level relative to the rest of the range but the lower frequencies are reproduced cleanly with excellent texture and resolution and the extension is notable, with sub-bass very natural.

Midrange is exceptionally clear and detailed and totally free of bass bleed. There is a refreshing openness and spaciousness to the sound. Timbre is spot on with the character of instruments well rendered and vocals clear and articulate.

The treble is clean and well-extended and brighter than neutral but does not suffer from harshness or disturbing peaks. It is sometimes sharp sounding on certain material, mainly on poor recordings. There is an attractive “airy” quality and a lucid transparency which endows the sound with an unusual level of clarity and detail.

Due to its excellent clarity and wide frequency range, the Heart Mirror’s soundstage was extensive in all three dimensions with very good layering, separation and imaging. The reproduction of ambience and studio reverb was particularly fine and helped to create a more authentic picture of the recording.

Pros

  • Natural timbre
  • Transparency and clarity
  • Detail retrieval
  • Fast Transients
  • Extension at both ends of spectrum
  • Soundstage
  • Build and accessories

Cons

  • A little bass light
  • Not kind to poor recordings
  • Benefits from amplification
  • May be too bright for some

KBEAR Robin

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Key Features

Drivers: 10 mm dynamic driver, 4 BA
Sensitivity: 110 dB/mW
Impedance: 18 Ohms
Cable: 2 Pin, 4N oxygen-free copper cable.

Performance

The Robin has a rich, full, warm and powerful bass. Sub bass is impressive with a good rumble and mid bass is warm and mildly emphasised. There is a little bass bleed and the low frequencies occasionally dominate on certain material.

The midrange is well balanced and a smooth in nature, but is slightly recessed and there is some bass bleed. There is very little unnatural “BA” timbre and the custom drivers manage to deliver an attractive and open tonality from the bass boundary to the upper mids with good tonality and a natural quality.

The treble region is clean, clear and smooth with good levels of detail and there is little harshness. It is deceptively extended and has an attractive airy quality.

Soundstage is roughly equal in all three dimensions with good imaging and there is an overriding sense of musicality.

Pros

  • Engaging musicality
  • Excellent bass
  • Smooth midrange
  • Airy and detailed treble
  • Spacious soundstage
  • Well made and presented

Cons

  • Recessed midrange
  • Bass sometimes dominates
  • A little bass bleed
  • Poor quality cable

Moondrop Aria

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Key Features

Driver: 10 mm dynamic driver, liquid crystal polymer (LCP) diaphragm
Sensitivity: 122dB/mW
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Cable: 2 pin, Silver plated OFC

Performance

The bass is slightly elevated in the sub-bass region and transitions into the midrange with no evidence of bleed. There is a moderate amount of rumble at the lower end of the spectrum. Mid bass has verve and immediacy and texture and resolution are well judged with a very natural timbre and there is a tuneful, musical quality throughout.

The midrange is open, expressive and largely neutral in tonality with perhaps just a hint of coolness. There is a notable transparency and due to the lack of bass bleed, the midrange gives the impression of being more forward with a wealth of detail. The clarity is outstanding with a good balance between technical prowess and musical expression.

The high frequencies are especially clear and open with very good extension. They display a tonality just on the cool side of neutral. Detail retrieval is admirable and resolution is of a high standard, with micro-detail very much in evidence.

The Aria’s soundstage shows impressive width with the image extending well beyond the ears. Height is also impressive and endows the stage with a spacious quality. The depth is not as extensive because of the forward nature of the midrange.

Pros

  • Excellent timbre across the range
  • Clear and expressive misrange
  • Detailed smooth treble

Cons

  • Sub bass lacks extension
  • Staging needs more depth
  • Cable could be better

SoundMAGIC E11C

SoundMagic E11C review - GearOpen.com

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Key Features

Driver: 10 mm dynamic driver, neodymium
Sensitivity: 112 dB/mW
Impedance: 42 Ohms
Cable: SPC

Performance

The E11C portrays a tonally balanced and full-bodied bass – though its attack may sway towards the softer side of the scale – it has an ultimately relaxing presentation.

The midrange is equally full bodied and retains a good even presentation with a clear and balanced sound. It is not the most transparent or detailed section but has a very agreeable tonality owing to its softer and balanced tonality.

Finally, the use of the SPC adds a certain resolution to the treble section with more refinement and detail. However, there is no stridency or sharpness that detracts from the overall sound presentation.

Pros

  • Balanced tonality
  • Clear midrange

Cons

  • Softer attack

Budget IEM Buying Guide

It’s hard to tell an outstanding IEM from just a glance. A top-range IEM has an assortment of attributes that need some research to establish.

To help you select the best gadget, I’ve summarized a list of factors to consider when you’re looking for an IEM that’ll serve your audiophile needs!

Sound Quality

Sound quality is central to music playbacks. Different IEMs have unique sound signatures. The most common signatures are the treble head, neutral, basshead, V-shaped, and mid-centric.

Your sonic preferences and your favorite music genre determine the IEM sound signature that suits you.

For instance, hip-hop lovers will find the basshead IEM awesome due to its relatively better production of the low-frequency effects that characterize such music.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for clarity of music vocals, then the mid-centric tuned IEM would be the best option.

For classical music, you’re better off with a neutral sound signature.

Although the driver brand is not the most crucial aspect of sound quality, dynamic drivers (DD) provide better timbral accuracy, whereas balanced armature (BA) has a better technical performance.

However, the tuning and implementation will determine the sound quality at the end of the day.

What Source Are You Using?

Although most IEMs could be driven by low power sources like cellphones and DACs, it’s essential to check their sensitivity and impedance when choosing one that will serve you well.

The sensitivity level determines how loud the gadget will be at a specific level from a given source. On the other hand, impedance level determines how much power the IEM needs to make it fully functional.

It’s crucial to note that IEMs with low sensitivity matched with a high impedance will have limited audio output and will need an amplifier.

Isolation

A good IEM should excel in noise isolation which involves using a physical barrier to block external sound waves.

Just the same way, you hear less noise when you cup your palms over your ears, closed-back IEMS, and those without vents tend to provide better isolation than those with vents and open backs.

However, noise cancellation is a crucial factor if you’ll be using the gadgets outdoors. Using an IEM with poor isolation outdoors is detrimental to your health. You’ll be forced to jack up the volume to rise above the noise, which can harm your ear.

Memory foam tips tend to fit nicely into your ear and provide the best isolation.

Detachable Vs. Non-Detachable

Unless you want to cut the cost by going for IEMs with non-detachable cables, those with detachable cables excel in terms of convenience, especially when on the go.

A non-detachable cable can easily get tangled up around objects and get damaged. Further, some may have cable microphonics and cause unwanted “cable noise” when the cable is strained.

Furthermore, a detachable cable is easy to replace in case of malfunction.

Over the Ears or Cable Down

Although inserting over-the-ear IEMs troubles beginners, they fit firmly and have less cable microphonics than cable down IEMS. Furthermore, they keep the cable out of the way for comfy listening sessions.

Fortunately, some IEMs come with both designs, and you can go for such if you’re unsure of which one to buy.

Conclusion

In Ear Monitors (IEMs) are fantastic tools for personal audio – the ability to listen to great music at any time and any place is a huge advantage. Choosing between them, however, can be a hard task when there are quite a few options in the market. With a clear budget in mind, we have chosen the best IEMs under $100.

Hopefully, this can help your quest for great audio for a fraction of the price.

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