Not quite there yet, but basically already there.
This update adds 78 new entries into the ranking list, bringing the grand total to 993 IEMs now officially ranked under the IEF system. All the to-the-point details are down below but for those who prefer me ranting to a camera about these entries, this week’s video will be me doing exactly that.
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Due to scheduling issues, “comments” have not been added to the new entries yet. I will have them completed at a later date.
The Usual Disclaimer
Before I begin, I shall copy and paste the disclaimer that has been on the Ranking List since its very inception.
Yes I know it’s wholly unnecessary for most of you dear readers, but it’s no secret that some of you have some literacy problems and require the section to be crammed down your slimy throats before you acknowledge its existence.
- The IEMs are ranked purely by sonic performance. Fit, isolation, durability, build quality etc. are ignored unless they interfere with the sound itself.
- The IEMs are not ranked in terms of price-to-performance value. They are ranked according to what I think is “objectively” the best.
- Most of the IEMs in this list are determined based off (universal) demo units from shops.
- Customs tried will be specified as “custom”. A “Third party custom” is someone else’s customs that I forcefit into my ears. Any other use of the term “unit” will be universal.
- 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.
- Ranks will be determined based on the best unit tried. Because of this, I am not accounting for unit variation. I cannot guarantee that what I’m hearing is what you will be hearing.
- This will revert to the most recent unit tried if there is a significant time gap between the last and most recent times I tried a particular model.
- Unreleased products will not be included in the ranking list until they are officially out of preorder stages or have production units sent to distributors. I will still be talking about them in my subreddit if I ever get the opportunity to try such units.
- Prices are at MSRP in USD. Prices not directly available in USD are based off the exchange rate during the time of writing.
- A (non-complete) list of IEMs that I’ve tried can be found on my measurements database.
- If you can tell, some of IEMs on the database (that I’ve tried) may not be in this list. This is could be due to lack of interest or lack of enough ear time to make a proper decision on tier placement.
- Yes, this is the opinion of one person on the internet. Please do not get too offended if your favourite IEM isn’t graded as highly as you’d like. (vice versa applies)
- This list is meant to be used as a reference point. I highly recommend against blind-buying and suggest to have a listen to the IEMs yourself. By all means, use this to shortlist what you should try in the future but don’t take it as gospel.
Also, here I reference my “Tonal-Technical” post which highlights the process in which said IEMs are ranked:
An update of the “Technical Ability” article, explaining the concepts of ‘tonality’ and ‘technicalities’ which are the cornerstones of the IEF ranking system.
So if anyone has any complains on certain rankings on certain IEMs, do acknowledge the whole “tonality versus technicalities” split. Just because an IEM may be “technically excellent” does not necessarily mean that it may be tonally so, and vice versa. And since I rank by a weighted system… well, the criteria for good rankings get even stricter.
The New Entries
|Model||Rank||Value Rating||Tone Grade||Technical Grade|
|Acoustune HS2000MX “SHO-笙-“||C||D||A|
|Ambient Acoustics MAD16||C||C-||B|
|Ambient Acoustics MAD24||C+||C||B|
|Ambient Dynamics AD-006 “Lyndale”||B-||★||B-||B-|
|BLON BL-A8 Prometheus||C||C||C|
|Craft Ears Argentum||B-||B-||B-|
|Craft Ears Aurum||B||B+||B|
|Craft Ears Cuprum||C+||C+||B-|
|Dethonray Tender I||D-||D-||D|
|DUNU Falcon Pro||C+||C+||B|
|Elysian Annihilator (2021)||S||★||S||S|
|Empire Ears Legend EVO||B+||B+||A|
|Fatfreq Musician Plus||C-||C-||C|
|Fatfreq Musician Pro||C-||C-||C|
|Fatfreq Reference Plus||C-||C-||C|
|Fatfreq Reference Pro||B-||B-||B-|
|FAudio Dark Sky||B+||A-||B+|
|KZ EDX Pro||C||C+||C|
|KZ ZSN Pro X||C||C+||C|
|LZ A2 Pro||D||D||C-|
|LZ A4 Pro||D+||D||C+|
|MiM Dark Magician||B+||★||A-||B+|
|Tanchjim New Hana (2021)||B||★★||B+||B|
|Tansio Mirai Land||C||C||C+|
|ThieAudio Legacy 2 (L2)||C+||★||B+||C-|
|ThieAudio Monarch Mk2||S||★★||S+||S|
|Tin HiFi P1 Plus||C+||C+||C+|
|Tin HiFi T2 Evo||C-||D+||C+|
|Tripowin x HBB Mele||C+||★||B||C+|
|Vision Ears EXT||A-||A-||A-|
|Model||Previous rank||New rank|
|qdc Gemini/8SL/Anole VX||S||S-|
|Vision Ears VE8||S||A+|
|Jomo Trinity SS||A+||B+|
|Jomo Trinity Brass||A||B+|
|Stealthsonics U9 JDM||A||B|
As it has been since the very beginning, the ranking list has sort of targeted a “normal-ish distribution”. There’s still some selection bias of course (I haven’t actively sought out the real bottom-of-the-barrel stuff, hence the lack of D/E/F-tiered entries) but nothing I’m too concerned about at the end of the day.
Some notable stats:
- Getting at least a C+ rank puts you in the top 50-ish percentile. C+ is, quite literally, “above average”.
- Getting at least a S- rank puts you in the top 1-ish percentile.
- Getting at least an “A-” rank puts you in the top 10%.
- The top 25% lies around B.
- The C-ranks (C+/C/C-) make up almost exactly half of the ranking list (50.10%).
- There are only seven 3-star (★★★) IEMs (with the inclusion of the Aria and the Timeless, up from 5 from the previous update), making it the most prestigious award where only 0.71% have it.
- There are thirty-five 2-star (★★) IEMs, making up only 3.53% of the population.
- The 1-star (★) award is a lot more attainable in comparison. 112 awardees, or 11.29% of the population.
Remember kids: if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist.
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