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.
|Model||Previous rank||New rank||Reasoning|
|Shure KSE1200||S||S-||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 U18Tzar||S-||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 SS||S-||A+||Lack of treble extension and overly coloured tonality.|
|Sony MDR-EX1000||S-||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 Fourte||A+||A||Wonky midrange tonality.|
|HYLA CE-5 & TE-5B||A+||A||Lower midrange suckout.|
|Noble Khan||A+||A||Treble spikes and midrange thinness.|
|64 Audio tia Fourte Noir||A||A-||A worse Fourte.|
|Dita Dream||A||A-||Metallic timbre.|
|Empire Ears Phantom||A||B+||Resolution, extremely coloured tone (lower mids overemphasised).|
|FitEar MH334 & TG334||A||A-||Resolution|
|Ultimate Ears UE18+ Pro (Gen 3)||A||A-||Wonky tonality|
|Custom Art Harmony 8.2||A-||B+||Resolution|
|Campfire Atlas||A-||B+||Bass bleed.|
|Empire Ears EVR||A-||B+||Timbral shortcomings.|
|HYLA TE-5T||A-||B+||Extremely coloured tone (huge swings between upper mids and lower mids).|
|Westone W80||A||B+||Upper midrange suckout.|
|Campfire Jupiter||B+||B||Upper midrange suckout.|
|Custom Art FIBAE3||B+||B||Wonky upper midrange tonality.|
|Dita Fidelity||B+||B||Extremely coloured tone (heavy contrast between treble, mids and bass).|
|Earsonics EM10||B+||B||Generally odd tuning direction.|
|Empire Ears Nemesis||B+||B||Treble spikes|
|FitEar Private 333||B+||B||Extremely coloured tone (heavy treble bias).|
|Campfire Vega||B||B-||Upper midrange suckout.|
|Campfire Dorado||B||B-||Resolution, bass bleed.|
|HYLA Nerva X||B||B-||Lacking dynamics.|
|Ultimate Ears UE7 Pro||B||B-||Resolution|
|AAW A3H Pro V2||B-||C+||Resolution|
|Audeze iSine 10/20 (No Cipher)||B-||C+||Skewed tonality.|
|Final E4000 & E5000||B-||C+||Resolution|
|TFZ King Pro||B-||C+||Lower midrange suckout.|
|Ultimate Ears UE11 Pro||B-||C+|
Resolution, coloured tone (bass/lower midrange overemphasised).
Resolution (mostly in the bass regions)
|Campfire Lyra 2||C+||C|
|Oriveti New Primacy||B-||C|
|Rose BR5 Mk2||C+||C|
|Tin HiFi P1||C+||C|
|Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 “TF10”||C+||C|
|Ultimate Ears Live||B-||C|
Lacks extension in both ends.
Lack of treble extension.
Lacking dynamics, coloured tone (lower mids overemphasised)
Bass bleed, phase issues.
|Spiral Ears SE5U||B-||C-|
Lacks treble extension, phase issues.
|Ultimate Ears UE5 Pro||D+||C-|
|Advanced GT3 Superbass||C-||D+|
Upper midrange and treble suckout
|Symphonium Audio Mirage||C-||D+|
Lacking treble extension; resolution.
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.