If you're looking for a reference IEM packing a well extended powerful and fast bass, an articulate midrange and an engaging treble both with accurate tone then at the asking price it's hard to find a better proposition than the Serial. Serial addresses the demanding audiophiles on a budget and it's quite refreshing in a bullish market in the upper tiers. On top of this Serial will scale superbly with more power and an affordable desktop amp is a great option to enjoy all it can offer.
Vision Ears Elysium vs EXT : Brother in arms!
Many Elysium owners must like me be wondering what the EXT would bring to the table compared to the original Elysium. For those who haven't got either, choosing could seem simple if you want a universal, just get the EXT it's the original Elysium with a DD and a quad EST. Well as we'll see, the Vision Ears team has luckily made this much more complicated and the OG Elysium still has its own strength and uniqueness. Keeping both IEMs in a collection makes total sense, as OG and EXT provides different portrayal of music and in no way their signature is marginally different. So which one should you pick? Read on!
ISN EST50 – Refined fun!
f you're looking for the next step in your audiophile journey coming from ISN H40/H50, the EST50 certainly does feature one of the best bass around in the segment but also adds a very engaging and more technical midrange with a refinement that it's pretty impressive at this price point! If you don't know ISN or were looking for a more balanced and refined presentation than the H40 then I strongly suggest you give them an audition!
Tansio Mirai Spark – Cozy fire
If you're looking for an IEM with remarkable transparency, impressive air and resolution combined with a relaxed presentation then the Spark certainly has a place in your collection! It does so with superb build quality at a fair price in a soaring prices segment.
Alambic Ears Mundaka – Thunder!
If you're looking for an IEM with outstanding bass authority and power, a natural transparent midrange with excellent bite and a lively treble with excellent extension then Mundaka should be at the top of your list! The Mundaka has a strong personality with its incredibly powerful bass. Yet if it can be a basshead dream come true, it's not at the expense of the "audiophile" criterias thanks to its transparent midrange and excellent treble performance. Think of Mundaka as a good excuse to satisfy your inner basshead without compromising your audiophile backbone 😉
Tansio Mirai Land – Promised land!
If you're looking for an IEM with an intoxicating midrange, powerful textured and fast bass and impressive air and resolution at a reasonable price then the Land is one of top alternatives in a crowded segment with tough competition! It does so with a really singular combination of transparency, engagement and refinement crediting a real tuning mastery from Tansio Mirai. This is a sweet time to be an audiophile and despite the insane price rise in the flagship segment thanks to EST becoming widespread there are some gems in the mid tier segment now and Land is a very strong contender there.
Penon Globe – Golden Globe!
If you’re looking for an IEM with punchy and snappy bass, a transparent midrange with good body and bite and well extended and refined treble delivered smoothly, then I can only recommend the Globe! The Globe is a very strong proposition at its price and keeps up with the best of a strong competition in this segment.
FiiO EM5 – Hi Five!
If you're looking for earbuds that delivers flawless performance across the board with a smooth and relaxed immersive signature, then look no further! Just make sure to pair it with a reference source with good power to get the best out of it.
Dunu Zen – Immersive !
If you're looking for an immersive IEM with holographic soundstage, deep powerful bass with excellent punch and control, a forward and articulate yet velvety midrange with rich textures and last but not least engaging treble with excellent extension then look no further, Zen will offer countless hours of musical bliss!
Reecho Insects Awaken – Andiamo!
If you're looking for a highly engaging comfortable IEM with excellent craftsmanship, with punchy, quick and dense bass for a superb sense of rhytm, full bodied mids with bite and emotional vocals as well as energetic and well extended treble then at this price point the Insects Awaken is a no brainer in my opinion!
BQEYZ Spring 2 – Jack of all trades
If you're looking for a solid technical performer with a reference tuning at a reasonable price, boasting strong bass foundations, articulate and clear mids as well as energetic and well extended treble that provide both excellent resolution and imaging then the Spring 2 is a strong option in the lower price tier!
Penon Totem – High voltage!
If you're looking for a full fledged flagship cable that brings the intensity up a notch on all your IEMs with snappier and punchier bass, fuller bodied mids with superb bite and separation and energetic yet smooth treble with superb transients without breaking the bank then look no further!
FiiO FD5 – 5th dimension
If you're looking for an IEM that boasts one of the best soundstage at any price, features powerful, clean and quick bass with excellent control as well as a clear, open an articulate midrange and a well extended and engaging natural sounding treble then the FD5 is a no brainer! If you own a good copper cable I strongly suggest you plug it to the FD5 as it will be a more relaxed yet engaging listen and if you don't it's worth spending the extra money unless you enjoy a more energetic and brighter midrange. I would stick to the larger nozzle as the narrower brings most of the benefits a copper cable brings with the downside of making the soundstage smaller and penalizing the upper treble presence and the engaging lower treble.
Penon Volt – Electric dreams
If you're looking for flagship performance at a reasonable price and you like full bodied, smooth signature with strong bass foundations, impressive resolution and treble refinement then you'd miss out not adding the Volt to your list. Make sure you have a proper source though to provide enough current to bring the best out of it. And if you have a bigger budget, Totem is a fantastic pairing that brings a more punchy, energetic, focused presentation as well as elite performance that matches much pricier flagships.
Ikko OH10 – Obsidian
If you're looking for a decently priced well built IEM with great slam and physicality down low, a full and smooth midrange, refined and energetic treble then the OH10 is worthy to add to the list of IEMs to consider. If you can spare the 59€ extra their CTU-01 balanced cable is strong value and a good match to the OH10 to take it one step further.