Best in-ear headphones 2022: From budget to High-End

Best in-ear headphones 2022
Best in-ear headphones 2022
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Today you will find a selection of the most interesting sound IEMs (in-ear monitors) from different price categories. As you understand, the article is absolutely audiophile, so all the in-ear headphones listed in it have a purely wired connection.

Meze 12 Classics V2

Budget IEMs in walnut cases

Getting to know the model

I can only speak fondly of these headphones. This is an updated version of the hit 12 Classics from the Romanian  brand Meze Audio , it has a nice design, a warm musical presentation and the most affordable price tag, which is only $70. If you’re looking for a surprisingly charming little thing with a proven level of quality for little money, this is your option.

The first distinguishing feature of the Meze 12 Classics V2 is that their cups are made of natural walnut wood, in combination with copper anodized aluminum, this looks very beautiful. There are no complaints about the assembly either. The model is single-driver, a small 8 mm speaker with titanium coating is installed inside. Another feature is that the landing here is straight, not behind the ear, many will like it. The 6N OFC oxygen-free copper cable is nylon insulated and durable, although unfortunately not removable. But in the kit, in addition to a modest set of silicone tips, there is a case, ultra-budget devices rarely indulge us with this.

Sound

Of course, you should not expect prohibitive resolution or reference crystalness in this price segment, but the headphones work out their money honestly. They offer a very lively, cozy and atmospheric signature, this soft naturalness sets them apart from my other favorites in this class that are drier and more technical like the  FiiO FD1 ,  FiiO FH1S  or  iBasso IT01X . With the Meze 12 Classics V2, you get a honey-colored, lamp-like color that is engaging, though not overbearing.

The sound of the model is balanced, transparent and airy. The bass is tight, without emphasizing the variability of textures, but with good depth and good control. The middle is clean, detailed, extended, with a harmonious combination of emotionality and accurate delineation of parts. The scale of the scene is not a record, but the positioning of the instruments is reliable. High frequencies are smoothed, comfortable, somewhat simplified, but they are devoid of causticity and plastic synthetics, so they are less tiring.

Main advantages:
Design, assembly, compactness, use of natural wood, direct fit, sound, price.

Main disadvantages:
Fixed cable, minimal set of accessories.

Who will be interested in Meze 12 Classics V2?
For beginner audiophiles.

FiiO FD3 Pro

Affordable headphones with premium performance

Getting to know the model

In FD3 Pro, the developers masterfully combined chic design and adult sound potential, while maintaining a budget price tag, we have about $170. The model has 12 mm dynamic drivers with a diamond-like DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) diaphragm. It uses 1.5 Tesla magnets, Daikoku ultra-thin aluminum Japanese coils, proprietary acoustic prism and semi-open design with patented air pressure release technology.
The bundle is generous – 11 pairs of ear pads and a plastic case. The stock FiiO LC-RC eight- core litz cable  in pure silver-  plated copper offers interchangeable 3.5, 2.5 and 4.4 Pentaconn plugs. Also of the features: the ability to customize the feed using replaceable filters for sound guides.

The FD3 Pro bowls are made from aluminium-magnesium alloy, CNC-machined with a final hand-polished finish. The faceplates feature marbled celluloid panels covered with a 2.5D magnifying glass. The headphones look stylish, their assembly is impeccable, the fit is comfortable.

Sound

The most important – if you do not remember about the cost of FD3 Pro, when listening to the model, you want to put it a class higher. We get here a large-scale, free sound picture with large spectacular images, a bright timbre range and, at the same time, an emphasis on micronuances, which makes sound tuning almost win-win. Resolution worthy for its price segment, drive and sweeping whip worked out deliciously, without busting.

The basses of the headphones are soft, massive, accentuated, moderately deep, and quite good in terms of speed. The middle is energetic, elastic, solid, colorful, sparkling, with a wonderful saturation of small nuances. The notes are plastic, extended, but without lazy lethargy. The upper frequencies are defined, expressive and quite technical.

By the way, if you want to save money, you can choose the younger model  FiiO FD3 . It is identical to the Pro version in every way except for the stock cable.

Main advantages:
Design, assembly, equipment, high-quality cable with interchangeable plugs, the ability to customize the feed using filters, comfortable fit, sound, price.

Main disadvantages:
Taste presentation.

Who will be interested in FiiO FD3 Pro?
For those looking for the best dynamic IEMs under $200.

 

Campfire Audio Satsuma

Armature monitors with tangerine notes

Getting to know the model

When the famous American  company Campfire Audio  releases affordable IEMs, it becomes an event in audiophile circles every time. And the new Campfire Audio Satsuma single-driver armatures did not disappoint me. What’s more, I liked them a lot more than the old Comet favorites.

The earmuffs are named after the Satsuma group of Japanese tangerines, and their orange color emphasizes this symbolic connection. The case material is ABS plastic, this is one of the few controversial aspects. Although the assembly in the USA allows you to count on durability. The wearing comfort is excellent, the cups are small and light, the sound isolation is above average. In the kit we get a canvas case in a beautiful green hue, 11 pairs of tips, including Final Audio ear pads and foams, the famous brand badge and a detachable ALO Audio Smoky Lite silver-plated copper cable.

Our issue price is $ 200, this is the most budget offer from Kemps at the moment, the brand mainly specializes in devices from a more top segment.

Sound

Campfire Audio Satsuma play fun, contrast, lively and energetic. They are not radically analytical, but close to neutrality. The thorough elaboration of the mids characteristic of a single-driver armature is complemented by an improved level of the edges of the range. There is excellent clarity throughout the spectrum, which allows you to hear more small details. A custom wideband ported armature driver and a 3D printed TAEC internal acoustic chamber form a clear, intricate, speedy signature with ample control.

Satsuma’s sound is not overdone, it’s unobtrusive and quite versatile. You can only find fault with the scene and the lack of naturalness, but, given the price tag, this is expected. Low frequencies are weighty, percussive, embossed, not record-breaking in depth, but still quite solid. The middle is clean, transparent, very detailed, airy, with vocals highlighted. The timbres are sweet and juicy, like citrus. The upper frequencies are gentle, iridescent, attenuation and attacks are accelerated, but the high frequencies are warm, without unbearable sonority.

Main advantages:
Design, compactness, assembly in the USA, equipment, comfortable fit, sound, price.

Main disadvantages:
Plastic bowls, thin cable.

Who will be interested in Campfire Audio Satsuma?
For audiophiles who love armature clarity and detail.

 

Campfire Audio Honeydew

Dynamic headphones with honey sound.

Getting to know the model

We continue the fruit theme, from tangerines we move on to honey melon varieties. Campfire Audio Honeydew are the company’s first entry-level single driver dynos. For them, a custom driver 10 mm with an LCP diaphragm was used, placed in a special acoustic chamber. The scope of delivery here is the same as that of Satsuma: silicone and foam tips, canvas case, ALO Audio Smoky Lite replacement cable. The design of these models is also identical, we have light plastic cups with steel sound guides. Only the color of the Honeydew cases differs, they are not orange, but bright yellow, like a ripe melon. Headphones cost $250.

Sound

The main concept of Campfire Audio Honeydew delivery is the utmost attention to the bass spectrum, while without global problems in the rest of the frequency range. If you want a relatively inexpensive model that can maximize the bass line in your favorite tracks, this is a good option to choose.

Honeydew sound comfortable, soft, viscous, with a little honey impressiveness. Their picture is solid, although without too much uncontrollable roar. Basses impress with weight, density, three-dimensionality, powerful punch, excellent depth and elastic tactile feedback. They are not exemplary technical, but moving, holographic and effective, bassheads should like this setting. The middle is warm, velvety and united, the notes are thick and extended. I would like more transparency here, but the level of detail due to the slightly raised midrange area is acceptable. The high frequencies are smooth, restrained, a bit analog, they will not cut the ear.

Main advantages:
Design, compactness, assembly in the USA, equipment, comfortable fit, sound, price.

Main disadvantages:
Plastic bowls, thin cable, flavor presentation.

Who will be interested in Campfire Audio Honeydew?
For bass lovers who find the Satsuma sound too bright and aggressive.

 

FiiO FH5S Pro

Updated version of iconic hybrids

Getting to know the model

Here we are waiting for, perhaps, the most charismatic headphones in my today’s selection. With the most unpronounceable name. But seriously – I personally know those who are madly in love with the FiiO FH5S Pro, for their money these IEMs have an almost exhaustive set of attractive qualities. If their slightly tasteful style suits you, they will close the question of further search for the ideal for a really long time.

The model is a doubly updated version of the popular FiiO FH5. The speaker configuration here is four-driver, it includes a Tesla speaker with a beryllium-coated membrane and N52 magnets giving a field of 1.5 T for bass, a small 6 mm speaker with a beryllium coating for the middle, a Knowles TWFK30017 twin armature placed in the sound guide for upper frequencies. Luxurious design, black and gold aluminium-magnesium alloy bowls feature TRISHELL’s proprietary resonance-reducing design. The acoustic design is semi-open, but the basic sound insulation is preserved. There is the possibility of self-tuning feed using switches on the housings. In the kit we get 13 pairs of different nozzles and an HB5 case, as well as the familiar eight-core FiiO LC-RC litz cable with 152 silver-plated copper conductors, having interchangeable plugs 3.5, 2.5 and 4.4 Pentaconn. Our price is about $360.

Sound

I want to note the three main trump cards of the FiiO FH5S Pro right away – crystal clearness, detailing and natural weight. Headphones build a large-scale and unusually transparent picture with normal resolution, the nuances are read clearly, as if through the thinnest glass. At the same time, there is no artificial, too “digital” dryness here, so the instruments are perceived as convincing and voluminous.

The basses of the model are deep, accentuated, percussive, solid and dense, with a pleasant texture. The middle is expressive, confident, clean and energetic. The picture is massive and solid, but the contours of the parties are reliable, there is a strict control. The timbres are natural, magnificent rich vocals add liveliness and drive to the sound. High frequencies are sparkling, fast and bright. Among the minuses, I can mention their straightforwardness and a harsh metallic ringing, the model is definitely not for high-frequency phobes, but the length of the tops is very good.

And, of course, the presence of toggle switches on the headphone cases gives room for experimentation, you can get 8 different settings. the scheme works on the principle of an equalizer, you simply raise the part of the spectrum that you want to highlight.

Main advantages:
Design, delivery set, improved cable with interchangeable plugs, the possibility of tuning musical style, price.

Main disadvantages:
Not for everyone comfortable fit, taste presentation.

Who will be interested in FiiO FH5S Pro?
For those who want to get a crystal sound with the possibility of customization.

 

Dunu EST112

Mid-range tribrids with electret drivers.

Getting to know the model

This is my 2021 discovery. The first tribrid headphones from  Dunu turned out to be so well balanced that I boldly put them on a par with more top-end rivals. A rare example when the level still noticeably exceeds the price.

The Dunu EST112 driver circuit combines a 13.5mm double-sided beryllium-plated driver for bass, custom Knowles armatures for mids and highs, and dual 2nd-generation Sonion electrets for the upper treble.

 

The ACIS (Air Control Impedance System) system is used, which is a type of phase inverter for the speaker, which enhances the return at frequencies below 100 Hz. A rich set of accessories includes 10 pairs of ear pads, including foams and  SpinFit tips , a case and a braided wire DUW-02S made of monocrystalline silver-plated copper 26 WAG with interchangeable 3.5, 2.5 and 4.4 Pentaconn plugs.

The design of the EST112 is discreet and beautiful, with anodized gray aircraft-grade aluminum shells and polished stainless steel faceplates embellished with fan-like beam patterns. Headphones cost $500.

Sound

I once called Dunu EST112 a well-blended cocktail of technicality and emotion. The model plays thoroughly, calmly, at the same time melodic and graceful. It is distinguished by jewelry micro-detailing, complemented by a decent resolution and gentle extension of consonances, due to which the character seems to be involving, but devoid of outright taste.

Transparency, composure and clarity make the headphones genre omnivores. The basses have a significant mass, correct depth, good speed and pronounced percussiveness. The lower layers are pumped up, but control is not lost. The mids are soft, clean, with excellent detail and natural density. The vocals are clear and smooth, the timbres are juicy and warm, the panorama is very large-scale. The beautiful symmetry of the macro dynamics add to the emotion, but this drive is not fatiguing. The upper frequencies are delicate, transparent and airy. They are devoid of aggression, the spectrum is elegant, iridescent and comfortable. As for me, the tweeters are a bit simplified, they could add brightness and a variety of overtones, but, given the cost, the headphones do a pretty good job anyway.

Main advantages:
Design, assembly, comfortable fit, delivery set, cable with interchangeable plugs, sound, price.

Main disadvantages:
Large bowls, background noise.

Who will be interested in Dunu EST112?
For those who are looking for a versatile tri-brid model on a mid-range budget.

 

FiiO FH9

Flagship hybrids in titanium cases with silver cable

Getting to know the model

A lineup of impressive new items from FiiO. Her appearance, perhaps, did not make me love  the FiiO FH7 less , the former flagship in the company’s hybrid headphone line, but the FH9 in the role of the current leader turned out to be damn good.

The model received a seven-driver driver scheme: a second-generation custom speaker with a 13.6 mm diaphragm made of amorphous diamond-like carbon DLC and 6 Knowles armatures. The bowls are made of titanium alloy, the design is impressive and brutal. The semi-open acoustic design of the cabinets contributes to the release of excess air pressure. The assembly is flawless, the fit is quite comfortable. It is possible to customize the feed using filters for sound guides. Includes HB5 case, 16 pairs of ear pads, including foam, herringbone and SpinFit, and a sterling silver eight-wire braided cable with interchangeable 3.5, 2.5 and 4.4 Pentaconn plugs. Our cost is about $680.

Sound

The key features of the handwriting of the headphones are technicality, spectacular colorfulness, mannerisms and liveliness. FiiO FH9 play very colorful, assertive and clear, they are able to work with three-dimensional space, they combine strict detail and melodiousness. Their tonalka is slightly darkened, the textures of the parts are velvety, the instruments have a realistic weight.

However, the warm nature of the timbres and the drive do not turn the picture into a continuous muddy mixture, the FH9s have sufficient control, they are able to play bitingly and restrainedly when necessary. I especially liked the transparent, clear and expressive middle here, it is literally created for complex audiophile compositions. The resolution is adequate, the scene is holographic and free. The upper frequencies are extended, flexible, not exemplary in naturalness and saturation with overtones, but very worthy for their class. The bass is booming, powerful, percussive, massive, deep and voluminous, fans of the spectrum will enjoy it.

Main advantages:
Design, delivery set, titanium bowls, silver cable with interchangeable plugs, the ability to customize the feed using filters, comfortable fit, sound, price.

Main disadvantages:
Weak sound insulation, taste presentation.

Who will be interested in FiiO FH9?
For audiophiles who want a real upgrade.

 

Audeze Euclid

Compact planars from the legendary manufacturer

Getting to know the model

We have been waiting for the first in-ear headphones from the American  company Audeze for a very long time , and now, finally, we got them. These thoroughbred isodynamics offer signature sound in a portable format, which is fitting given that not all audiophiles have time for long home listening sessions. Famous Audeze technologies are used: 18 mm planar driver, patented Fluxor magnets, Uniforce voice coils, Fazor waveguides. But the price tag of Audeze Euclid is also serious, with us it is just over $1400.

The ear cups are made from solid aluminum with precision milling, the faceplates are coated with carbon fiber. The assembly is impeccable, the design is concise. The size of the cases is large, but the landing suited me personally, although here this is an individual question. The kit includes 6 pairs of foam and silicone ear pads, a Pelican 1010 case and a fairly high-quality braided oxygen-free copper cable.

Sound

In my opinion, this model is not for those who prefer analytics and icy technicality. Euclid are played softly, thoughtfully and smoothly, their delivery is non-aggressive, cozy and comfortable, the sound texture resembles a thick and delicate paste. Smooth overflows of notes are complemented by a warm palette of timbres, the musical picture is solid, harmonious, slightly analog. The contours of individual parts are not emphasized, the overall emotional component of the composition is in priority, although there is no excessive forcing of the drive either.

Headphones build a fairly large-scale stage, both in width and in depth. Their basses are solid, with a strong punch and long decays. The spectrum is slightly accentuated, the base is massive and dense. The middle is melodious, lingering, with good macrodynamics and correct separation. The upper frequencies are clear, weighty, plastic, defined and controlled.

Main advantages:
Design, assembly in the USA, comfortable fit, delivery set, sound, status role of the device.

Main disadvantages:
Large bowls, taste presentation, price.

Who will be interested in Audeze Euclid?
For those who want to listen to planar headphones on the go.

 

FIR Audio M5

Premium tribrides with natural sound

Getting to know the model

How many copies were broken in the disputes of audiophiles about these headphones of the young  company FiR Audio . There are those who love the M5 madly, others criticize them, opinions are very different. But the model has definitely attracted a lot of attention, I want to pay tribute to her in my selection. What’s more, the M5s are still available alongside the brand’s new Frontier line because, to quote FiR Audio themselves, “some things are just too good to let go.”

So, for the price of $2800, the owner gets five-driver tribrides, the configuration is classic: a speaker for low frequencies, 3 armatures for mid and high frequencies, an electret radiator for upper high frequencies. A number of proprietary technologies are used: the third-generation ATOM (Air Transferring Open Module) pneumatic system that balances the air pressure in the auditory canal, the patented Direct Aperture Acoustics fully tubeless design, the tactile bass driver system, the open design of reinforcing radiators without the Direct bore acoustic tube.

The FiR M5 have neat little 3D printed anodized aluminum cases. The design with black shells and scarlet faceplates looks quite stylish. I have no complaints about the build quality or the comfort of wearing. The kit, in addition to the case and a modest set of nozzles, also comes with a soft eight-core 26AWG litz cable made of purified copper. In terms of acoustic transparency, it is sane, but for headphones of this level, I recommend choosing a more top-end lace.

Sound

Let’s start with the positives. FiR M5 is cheerful, lively, transparent, bright and extremely engaging. They play harmoniously, voluminously and airily, without emphasizing micronuances, without deliberately trying to draw attention to the shortcomings of the recording. These are exactly the headphones for music, and not for listening to individual notes, and they have an undeniable charm. They know how to deftly get into the mood, decorate familiar compositions, do not bother and do not tire. The handwriting is devoid of harsh bursts, sharp dips and excessive dryness, the consistency of the drivers is excellent.

Now to the cons. After regular comparisons with my  64 Audio tia Fourte  and  Noble Khan , I can say with confidence that the FiR model is inferior to them in terms of resolution. In this class, I would like to get more information content, texture variability, detail, separation. There are also questions about naturalness. Therefore, I really think the initial price of the M5 is somewhat overpriced. Luckily, they have discounts.

On the other hand, a decisive role in the perception of the sound of these headphones takes on their unique color. Warm, joyful, energetic. Some people fall in love with him, some don’t. And it so happened that I am specifically among the people who rather like it. So I understand why the FiR M5 has become a Hi-End device for many audiophiles. If their magic works on you, you will be very pleased with them.

The basses of the model are velvety, rounded and weighty, the impact is pronounced, the relief is read perfectly. The sub is devoid of accent, but the mid has a bit of extra mass. The middle is driving, dynamic, soft, smooth, with sweet colorful timbres. I would call the headphones vocal-oriented, there is a lot of saturation and beautiful overtones. The instruments are holographic and movable and can be easily visualized in front of you. The scale from the stage is close to the flagship. High frequencies are fast, clear, not harsh or noisy. The length of the upper layers is not a record, but this makes the headphones more loyal to the quality of the material.

Main advantages:
Design, assembly in the USA, comfort of landing, complete set, sound, status role of the device.

Main disadvantages:
Taste presentation, price.

Who will be interested in FiR Audio M5?
For audiophiles looking for top-end IEMs with a musical edge.

 

Noble Audio Sultan

 

The Sultan of Sound

Getting to know the model

It remains to talk about the flagship from the American  company Noble Audio . Regular readers will remember that in 2021 Sultan was also in my personal collection, so I can sincerely recommend these headphones for review if you are looking for an option among the ultimate devices of the highest segment.

The Noble Audio Sultan are tribrids with a seven-driver driver circuit, have a patented 10 mm diaphragm driver for low frequencies, 4 Knowles armatures for the mids and Sonion dual electrets for high frequencies. The design of the model is recognizable and frankly delightful. The faceplates are acrylic with a delicate Galaxy pattern, each pair is individual, and the shells are made of solid aluminum, their surface has an embossed pattern. The bowls are rather big in size, although they fit comfortably. In the kit we get a generous pile of accessories: a Nanuk 903 polycarbonate case with a proprietary PowerClaw locking system, a magnetic leatherette case, a fabric bag, 6 pairs of foams, 3 pairs of silicone ear pads and a good eight-core Noble Upgrade cable made of monocrystalline OCC copper. The cost of headphones with us is about $ 3250.

Sound

First of all, this model has the largest and most holographic scene of all the heroes in my collection. With the right eartips, the openness of the acoustic panorama created by the Noble Sultan is quite comparable to full-size headphones.

Another feature of the sound is flexibility, elastic plasticity, when even at the most extreme turns of the melody, the model does not break the notes, but diligently pulls any juicy overflows. Such fluidity adds to the music a pleasant saturation, liveliness and spectacular emotionality.

Noble Sultan play full-bodied, informative, quite technical, but atmospheric and colorful. Their basses are frisky, layered, punchy, dense, deep, perfectly controlled. The elaboration of the relief is really thorough and verified, the variability of textures is excellent. The impact of the subwoofer sometimes tired me, but there are no complaints about the level. The middle is smooth, musical, gentle and bewitching, with a rich timbre scale. It is slightly retracted, sometimes I lacked clarity and speed, priority is given to macrodynamics, but reinforcing emitters still provide the necessary detail. The upper frequencies characteristic of electrets are delicate, unobtrusive, graceful. A friend of mine aptly called them “fluffy”. The range is comfortable, it will not torment you with brightness. By the way, this is the main reason why I, having lived at the same time with Noble Khan and Noble Sultan for some time, I decided to keep the younger model for myself – I am a high-frequency filter, and Khan’s piezo driver gives more sparkle, crystal, shine, sharpness and emphasis on the tops. But if you are not a fan of this kind of torture, it is better to choose Sultan.

Main advantages:
Design, assembly in the USA, comfortable fit, delivery set, sound, status role of the device.

Main disadvantages:
Large bowls, taste presentation.

Who will be interested in Noble Audio Sultan?
For those who want Hi-End headphones with a spectacular sound signature.

 

What do you think?

4.6 / 5. 71