The Big October Mixup (ranking list update)

Apart from my measurements database, the IEM ranking list is probably my most ambitious project. Clocking in at 311 entries as of today, it essentially represents my entire audiophile experience in one tight, condensed package. And with time, my thoughts and opinions will change. In fact, you’ve probably seen one particular disclaimer about it all:

The positions are not set in stone. I’m only human; I may miss out on certain details or traits that may only be apparent with repeated listening. Expect changes.

I am only human after all, and subjectivity only begets bias that may creep into lists like this, no matter how “objective” I may try to be. I may try to separate personal preference from this, but sometimes I may not be able to catch myself in things like pricing and hype.

Upon further reflection on my progress with the list and with the website as a whole, I’ve realised something. I’ve become too soft, and in some cases, I’ve let high prices and hype trains influence the way that I’ve ranked certain items. I’m proud to say that at least it’s not to the extent of most other review sites, but still not proud to admit that I’ve been influenced by the very factors I’ve scorned over the years.

This update mainly comprises of downward revaluations, so don’t expect your favourite whatevers to get an upgrade. The main goal is to clean up the higher ranks and make them more “valuable” by placing greater weighting on potential dealbreakers and weaknesses. In addition, with the clarification over recent times that a “C” grade represents a bare passing grade (essentially average), some things will also have to be readjusted accordingly.

And without further ado, the changes.

ModelPrevious rankNew rankReasoning
Shure KSE1200SS-The new criteria for S ranking sits as follows: top-level technicalities with minimal/no sacrifices or weaknesses. The KSE1200’s midrange tonality and treble spike are far too dangerous quirks for this criteria.
64 Audio U18TzarS-A+Lacking dynamics and generally uninspired tuning.
Campfire Andromeda (including S)S-A+Previously near the lower rung of S-, made sense to downgrade under new circumstances.
Jomo Trinity SSS-A+Lack of treble extension and overly coloured tonality.
Sony MDR-EX1000S-A+Treble spikes
Ultimate Ears UE18+ Pro (Gen 2)S-A+Lacks the resolution required to match up with IEMs of its previous rank. (In future entries, I’ll just put this as simply “resolution”.)
64 Audio tia FourteA+AWonky midrange tonality.
FitEar MH334SRA+AResolution.
HYLA CE-5 & TE-5BA+ALower midrange suckout.
Noble KhanA+ATreble spikes and midrange thinness.
64 Audio tia Fourte NoirAA-A worse Fourte.
Dita DreamAA-Metallic timbre.
Empire Ears PhantomAB+Resolution, extremely coloured tone (lower mids overemphasised).
FitEar MH334 & TG334AA-Resolution
InEar SD5AA-Resolution
Ultimate Ears UE18+ Pro (Gen 3)AA-Wonky tonality
Custom Art Harmony 8.2A-B+Resolution
Campfire AtlasA-B+Bass bleed.
Empire Ears EVRA-B+Timbral shortcomings.
HYLA TE-5TA-B+Extremely coloured tone (huge swings between upper mids and lower mids).
Jomo QuatreAB+Resolution
Massdrop PlusA-B+Resolution
Westone W80AB+Upper midrange suckout.
Campfire JupiterB+BUpper midrange suckout.
Custom Art FIBAE3B+BWonky upper midrange tonality.
Dita FidelityB+BExtremely coloured tone (heavy contrast between treble, mids and bass).
Earsonics EM10B+BGenerally odd tuning direction.
Empire Ears NemesisB+BTreble spikes
FitEar F/A111B+BResolution
FitEar Private 333B+BExtremely coloured tone (heavy treble bias).
Rhapsodio GalaxyB+BResolution
Rhapsodio GalaxyB+BResolution
Campfire VegaBB-Upper midrange suckout.
Campfire DoradoBB-Resolution, bass bleed.
HYLA Nerva XBB-Lacking dynamics.
Rhapsodio SolarB+B-Resolution
Sony MH755BB-Resolution
Ultimate Ears UE7 ProBB-Resolution
AAW A3H Pro V2B-C+Resolution
Audeze iSine 10/20 (No Cipher)B-C+Skewed tonality.
BGVP DM6B-C+Resolution
Final E4000 & E5000B-C+Resolution
TFZ King ProB-C+Lower midrange suckout.
Ultimate Ears UE11 ProB-C+

Resolution, coloured tone (bass/lower midrange overemphasised).

BGVP DMGC+C

Resolution (mostly in the bass regions)

Campfire Lyra 2C+C

Resolution

FiiO F3C-C

Resolution, tonality

FiiO FA1C+C

Resolution

Oriveti New PrimacyB-C

Resolution

Rose BR5 Mk2C+C

Resolution

Tin HiFi P1C+C

Resolution

Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 “TF10”C+C

Resolution

Ultimate Ears LiveB-C

Resolution

Warbler PreludeB-C

Lacks extension in both ends.

Campfire NovaCC-

Lack of treble extension.

FiiO FA7CC-

Lacking dynamics, coloured tone (lower mids overemphasised)

Rhapsodio ZombieB-C-

Bass bleed, phase issues.

Spiral Ears SE5UB-C-

Lacks treble extension, phase issues.

Ultimate Ears UE5 ProD+C-

Tonality

Advanced GT3 SuperbassC-D+

Upper midrange and treble suckout

Symphonium Audio MirageC-D+

Lacking treble extension; resolution.

Hifiman RE1000D+D

Treble spikes, wonky tonality.

The current distribution of each grade is as follows:

  • S tier: 12 entries
  • A tier: 59 entries
  • B tier: 89 entries
  • C tier: 93 entries
  • D tier: 40 entries
  • E tier: 15 entries
  • F tier: 4 entries

And as per usual, please have a read through the disclaimers I’ve painstakingly highlighted on my ranking list. I’m just one guy on the internet.

My usual thanks to all my kind subscribers on Patreon! Thank you deeply for your continued support.

And now, shoutouts to my familiar big-money boys:

“McMadface”
Denis
Justin
“caravan”
Nicholas
Alexander

1 thought on “The Big October Mixup (ranking list update)”

  1. Hi Crin, love your work! Quick question on the andromeda og and s down grade comment “
    Campfire Andromeda (including S) S- A+ Previously near the lower rung of S-, made sense to downgrade under new circumstances.” can you elaborate on the new circumstances?

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