In-ear Headphones... I need help deciding

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bjett92, May 10, 2009.

  1. bjett92 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2007
    Indy, IN
    I know there are a ton of threads out there, however I have narrowed down the in-ear headphones to a specific list and was wondering if anybody had any advice, suggestions, or reviews about the headphones I have selected. Feel free to suggest some that I do not have on the list.

    1. Shure SE115 ($119.99)
    2. Shure SE210 ($149.99)
    3. Etymotic hf5 ($149.00)
    4. V-MODA vibe duo ($101.00)
    5. Ultimate Ears MetroFi 220vi ($99.99)
    6. Apple In-Ear Headphones w/ Remote and Mic ($79.00)
    7. Bose In-Ear Headphones ($99.95)
    8. Monster Cable Turbine ($179.95)
    9. Monster Cable Beats by Dr. Dre In-Ear ($149.95)

    I know Monster Cable tends to be overpriced, but if the sound quality is worth that amount of money then I might consider them.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
  2. r6girl Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Sep 6, 2003
    I have the V-Moda Vibe Duos and I would not recommend them. My first pair, purchased in October 2007, died after about 8 months. I got a warranty replacement for them and was sent the updated version of these headphones with the revised plug. This replacement pair just died on me the other day, lasting about the same amount of time as the first pair.

    I don't abuse my headphones - I used them during my commute for about 1.5 hours every day and put them carefully back in the included pouch after every use. I liked how they sounded, but I'm not going to buy another pair of these ever at this point. I'm considering Shures or Etymotics this time around - my Etymotic ER-6i's have had no problems over the past 5 years or so.
  3. michael.lauden macrumors 68020


    Dec 25, 2008
    Monster Cable rules, check to see if they have the lifetime warranty they include with all of their other cables (or at least in music).

    i will say the difference you achieve won't be from the short 2-4 foot cable though. for that length, and with only a 3.5MM jack to wire to speakers, there isn't much gain in upgrading the wire.

    over priced IMO - for other things, like large pedalboards. they are great
  4. bjett92 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2007
    Indy, IN
    Thanks I had read some reviews that said they broke easily and I guess those were not just isolated cases.
  5. Fizzoid macrumors 68020


    Jul 11, 2008
    SE210 > Bose in-ear
    I was going to buy the Bose and a couple of reviews said to consider the SE210s as an alternative, only let down by the fact they cost more. When I found them cheaper than the Bose it was a done deal, and I think they're superb for the money. I wasn't sure I'd get on with in-ear headphones, but they're surprisingly comfortable.
  6. naurmel macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2004
    don't waste money

    I had 2 pairs of Shure E2. Both died shortly after the warranty. In between I had the Apple phones, they held nearly 18 months. It was always the cable. This is why I buy no more expensive in-ears. Apple sounds good enough and keep just as long as the expensive ones. This is just my experience.

    The sound of such phones is really great! And the shures are my favorites. But it is a lot of money. And a short time. (I used them every day for 4 hours).

    No scotch. ;o)
  7. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    I agree, I had vibe duos for a week and the left channel blew.

    What kind of music do you listen to?

    You can find the Turbines for A LOT cheaper if you shop wisely (I've seen as low as $104), and out of the list you have, the Turbines are probably the best. I wouldn't recommend the Bose, they have really boomy and muddy bass that overshadows the mids and highs.

    There are two more in that kind of price range that I might suggest you look into: Phonak Audeo PFE, and the Sennheiser IE series, mainly the 7 because of its balanced and neutral sound compared to the 6 and 8.
  8. bjett92 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2007
    Indy, IN
    I've read that the Bose in-ear headphones don't really match the same audio quality as their rest of their equipment.

    I mostly listen to alternative and rock. And the turbines are probably my favorite on the list, however I haven't really looked around for cheaper prices yet. Do you know a good place to find them cheaper?
  9. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Macmall has them for $104.99

    Just remember that they are Dynamic Driver IEMs, so they require a "burn in" period to fully develop their sound, meaning they won't sound like they should out of the box.
  10. bjett92 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2007
    Indy, IN
    Any idea how long the burn in period is?
    And how does the Audeo PFE compare to the Turbine?
  11. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    From what I've heard, around 150 hours to fully develop, but that is pretty much expected from "high end" dynamics. My Sennheiser IE7s took about 250 hours to fully develop their sound and fully burn in.

    The PFE I used to own, and it was great for the genres you like. Astounding detail and clarity, and very tight and accurate bass. The ONLY place I could even say the PFE is lacking is in bass quantity, which is remedied by using an amp. The Turbine would probably be better if you were looking for something with more bass presence and impact without using an amp.
  12. LeoFio macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York

    I listen to the same genres of music and I have the Bose ones. I can't recommend other Bose products, but I like the headphones.
  13. bcburrows macrumors 6502


    Mar 25, 2009

    Although not on your list I have the shure 530 which I picked up for $300 the sound is incredible, although with high compression you can hear all the distortion. The cable quality is very good, and certainly much better than my previous headphones - Bang and Olfuson A4's

    A friend has the shure 210 and says they are fantastic but I have also heard great things about the etymotics headphones as well.....

    But from personal experience I will be sticking with shure in the future.....
  14. tjcampbell macrumors 6502a


    Aug 14, 2006
    I had the Sennheiser MM50 iPhone and the sound quality was very good, but I found the microphone was very bulky, too bulky.

    They were superb for blocking noise on the tube and on the plane, but when walking down the street I found them a tad cumbersome.

    They work across the shoulder which is supposed to be convenient because they can hang there when you aren't using them. The problem is the weight of the mic drags them and they fall off easily. This happened to me and it only took a split second before I realized, but in that time the person behind me had sorta stepped on them.

    So one side doesn't work which is actually great for driving! Will leave it in the car for calls.

    NOW... I did like these headphones, but the mic size was a put off so I've decided to for apples new in-ear ones. I ordered them today. I'll post my thoughts in this thread if people are still about.

    Cheers, Tom
  15. mynameisraj macrumors 6502

    Nov 14, 2008
    Boulder, Colorado
    I have a pair of Shure SLC3 in-ears. I highly recommend them :) Look around for price cuts at slickdeals and fatwallet because I got a pair of white ones (discontinued) for $55 USD.

    Etymotic Research is also another option; the er-6 is a well priced & good sounding in-ear.
  16. bjett92 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2007
    Indy, IN
    Shure is definitely high on my list too as I've read many great things about them same with the Etymotics as you said.
  17. iRen macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2007
    stay away from the V-Modas the wires are easily separated. I have now the Klipche Image 10 and love them. Great bass and perfect highs. $279 was a steal for them but u can find em on eBay cheaper.
  18. gmecca2 macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2008
    I have the V-Moda Vibes and haven't had a problem yet. I researched them thoroughly and still decided to buy them after sampling a pair. I have had them for 3 months now with no problems. They do have a warranty that many people claim is very good as long as you keep your receipt so I didnt worry.
  19. anirban macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2007
    Houston, TX
    I've owned a pair of Etymotic 4Ps since the last three years. They are the most excellent piece of in-ear headphones I've ever owned. People may complain a little about it not having too much bass, but I think the 4P delivers the same bass that the musicians intended to- it doesn't amplify it.

    I love the 4Ps, and can vouch for any Etymotic Research phones.
  20. hajime macrumors 601

    Jul 23, 2007
    Do all Shure earphones have the same sound isolation capability?

    There is a big different in price between the SE530 and lower-end models such as the new SE115. Regardless of sound quality, which one is the best in terms of sound isolation? A salesperson said that they are the same. Don't know if this is true.
  21. gctwnl macrumors regular


    Jan 4, 2005
    The Netherlands
    I used to have Shure E3c. Expensive (around $250). The fit is good (the wire-above-the-ear of the Shures and their small size is perfect for my ear), the bass was reasonable (a bit underperforming) for the rest the sound was very good. They tend to clog up easily with ear wax and cleaning them is difficult. After 1.5 years of (not intensive) use, one speaker started to get worse and worse. It has become unusable now.

    I now own a pair of Sennheiser in-ears ($40) which sound better than the Shures. But the fit is less comfortable for me. A friend of mine also has been using the Sennheisers for more than a year and is very satisfied.
  22. sawedust macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2009
    The best IEMs I've ever owned were the Ultimate Ears 5 Pro in black. Excellent range, perfect fit, great seal. Got them for about $150 from the bay. Unfortunately I lost one of the armatures (they are detachable) and there went my set.

    Ended up going with the Etymotic Research ER-6is after Amazon had a sale on them. Took a long, long time to break them in but now they sound pretty good. Nice highs and mids but a little lacking in the bass.

    ER, UE, and Shure are all well-respected brands and choosing an IEM from any of them would be worth it.
  23. doobi18 macrumors 6502

    Dec 31, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    I love these kind of threads.

    Go with either the Shure SE210, UE Metro Fi 2, or the Etymotics.

    Shure are the French wine of earphones, but the Metro Fi get fantastic reviews and considering the price point are absolutely amazing value (and great sound from personal experience). I have never tried the Etymotics, but they seem to get favourable reviews.

    I would also recommend higher range models of UE for consideration as well.

    Steer clear of V-Moda, I have read literally thousands of posts about breakage after only a couple of months. Apple's in-ears aren't fantatic (though the new model are a huge step-up), and Bose's "in-ear" phones aren't actually proper in-ear buds, just normal with a long bit of rubber thus no proper isolation. Monster Cable have absolutely no rep I have heard of in the headphone arena, so I will pass on comment - maybe they will prove themselves in the future!

    If you are after some other reading, check out

  24. Styxie macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2008
    I would advise you not to buy the Apple In-Ear headphones, I was gonna buy them myself but there's a lot of bad reviews out there. They're OK, but you can get a lot more for the money. As for myself, I own the Sony EX75SL and the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds. I have to say there's a world of difference between these two. The Sony's have all the highs you need, but no bass. The Smokin' Buds are the total opposite, with very little high, but tons of bass. I really like my bass, as it makes my cycle faster =p. As for you, it depends on what you need them for.
    I can't say anything specific about the IEM's on your list, as I've haven't listened to any of them.
  25. tjcampbell macrumors 6502a


    Aug 14, 2006
    I wasn't going to go for the higher end ones as for some reason I often lose or break headphones... kinda like sunglasses!

    I'll make a quick note in this thread on what I think of them.

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