The 5 Best IEMs Under $500 in 2022 [Buyer’s Guide]

by Alex.   Last Updated On May 10th, 2022.
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Having a powerful In-Ear Monitor for your studio work, audio editing, and music recording can mean the difference in casual and professional production. Whether you are working with music recordings, podcasts, or other forms of audio, a good IEM can help streamline your production values.

When it comes to quality IEMs, you don’t want to dish out exorbitant amounts of money for a mediocre product. That’s why we took the time to go over a variety of IEMs in this price range (see also IEMs under $1000) that can meet or exceed a large number of expectations.

The basics are all covered, diverse frequency ranges, standard ohms levels, options for comfort, and both wired and wireless options – but we also took a look at more advanced features such as independent earpiece tuning options, subwoofer and tweeter balance on the driver sets, and IPX ratings when applicable.

From basic wireless IEMS with dual drivers, to IEMs that have quad drivers in each ear and a variety of independent tuning options, you’re sure to find the best in-ear monitor for your on-stage and in studio audio production needs.

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Comparison of the Best IEMs Under $500

Best Balanced Armature Driver IEM Under $500See On Amazon
photo of the Shure  SE535-V Sound Isolating EarphonesShure
SE535-V Sound Isolating Earphones
Best Ergonomic Fit IEM Under $500See On Amazon
photo of the Westone W40Westone
W40
Best Wired IEM Under $500See On Amazon
photo of the Simgot EK3Simgot
EK3
Best Frequency Range IEM Under $500See On Amazon
photo of the FiiO FA9FiiO
FA9
Best Long Lasting Comfort IEM Under $500See On Amazon
photo of the Audio-Technica ATH-E70Audio-Technica
ATH-E70

Reviews of the Best IEMs Under $500

Wireless IEM with three BA drivers in each ear to provide a wide range of frequencies with a spacious and clear sound.

See On Amazon
  • Size
    • 0.56 lb
  • Style
    • Wired
    • Detachable Cables
  • Features
    • Frequency range to 19.5 kHz
    • Two subwoofer, 1 tweeter drivers
    • Very balanced BA drivers for great sound

Shure made sure to give this IEM a great set of balanced armature drivers. You’ll find three in each in-ear monitor, which offer a very wide frequency range from 18 Hz to 19.5 kHz. You won’t struggle to hear the crisp highs or find any distortion with the deep lows with these exceptionally well separated dual woofers and single tweeter triple drivers.

The wired earpieces are made from premium internal and external components. This not only gives you a professional look to each IEM, but also ensures long lasting durability. You’ll easily be able to detach the cables as needed to turn this into a wireless option for around the studio.

The biggest downside with these is that they can be used wired or wireless, however the battery life when used wireless is extremely limited and may only give you around 2 hours of use. This can be a minor concern for some but a big issue for others, so if you are planning on doing a lot of wireless audio recording or sampling, this is something to keep in mind.

What We Like

Wide frequency response

Three BA drivers

Versatile 3.5mm connection

Know Before Buying

BA drivers include 2 woofer and 1 tweeter

IEM cables are detachable

Battery life can be very limited

See On Amazon

Extremely comfortable and highly versatile IEM with a frequency range that reaches 18 kHz and offers excellent highs, lows, and mid range sound.

See On Amazon
  • Size
    • 0.44 ounces
  • Style
    • Wireless
    • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Features
    • Frequency from 10 Hz to 18 kHz
    • Low profile design for comfortable fit
    • Includes 10 pairs of assorted ear tips

If you’ve struggled with comfort with your IEM in the past, Westone has gone a step further to give you the most comfort possible in their ergonomic monitors. Not only will you find the default set of ear tips, but you will also find 10 additional sets in both silicone and foam to give you the highest level of comfort and a custom fit.

The IEMs offer four powerful BA drivers in each ear which give you exceptional sound quality across frequencies from 10 Hz to 18 kHz with the help of an MMCX silver plated cable. This means you’ll be able to hear crisp and clear changes between every note, with deep and articulate lows and crystal clear highs giving you an accurate representation of every single note that comes through the monitors.

The IPX4 rating on these IEMs is lower than some other IEMs may offer, but still prevents a wide range of dirt and grime from building up. It also helps prevent skin oils, fingerprints, and moisture from harming the IEMs regardless of how often you may be using them.

What We Like

Four powerful BA drivers in each ear

Very good background noise cancellation

Includes high definition MMCX cable

Know Before Buying

IPX4 rating can be lacking

Very lightweight feel can seem flimsy

31 ohms impedance range

See On Amazon

Lightweight wired IEMs that offer a three-way crossover BA driver system and two toggle options for fine tuning of audio tones, bass, and vocals.

See On Amazon
  • Size
    • 0.78mm
  • Style
    • Wired
    • Over-ear fit
  • Features
    • Three-way crossover BA drivers
    • Two toggles for tuning
    • Excellent for external audio processing

For the discerning audio sampler, vocalist, or musician, Simgot has you covered with their EK3’s. These outstanding IEMs offer a three-way crossover BA driver system to achieve stunning audio balance across frequencies up to 40 kHz.

Additionally, each earpiece will offer two toggle options so you can perform fine tuning to each IEM independently. This gives you full control over the bass, vocals, and overall balance tuning to give you an exceptionally high quality sound when it comes to audio sampling and studio editing. This means you’ll be able to adjust each earpiece to your liking to hear a better balance of bass, treble, or mid ranges as needed to get the best sampling result.

The EK3’s offer an over-ear hook style fit giving you security even when actively moving around your sound studio or other spaces. In addition, you’ll find a set of 6 additional ear tips to give you the best fit to enable noise isolation features and give you the best return on sound across all frequencies.

What We Like

Frequency range reaches 40 kHz

Includes 6 extra sets of ear tips

Has a 14-18 ohm impedance

Know Before Buying

Noise isolation is lacking with improper ear tips

3.5mm wired connection

Uses BA drivers with crossover system

See On Amazon

Versatile IEMs that offer an impressive frequency range from 15 Hz to 40 kHz to give you an incredible low and high end audio result.

See On Amazon
  • Size
    • 6.2 grams
  • Style
    • Wired
    • 3.5mm cable
  • Features
    • Frequency range raches 40 kHz
    • Switches for treble, bass and mids
    • Includes 15 pairs of ear tip choices

Having an extremely versatile frequency range not only ensures you can hear every note in clarity and crispness, but can also help ensure you make the best choices when it comes to tuning, sampling, and editing for your audio business.

The FA9’s offer one of the most impressive frequency ranges in this price point starting at 15 Hz and reaching all the way to 40 kHz. This gives audiophiles, musicians, vocalists, and other audio professionals an exceptionally precise and accurate response on each note from the deep lows to the extreme highs. Additionally, the IEMs weigh a mere 6.2 grams which equals unrivaled comfort that you may even forget you are wearing them.

These IEMs offer a variety of adjustment switches to give you control over fine tuning and sound reproduction. You’ll find switches for impedance balance, treble boost, bass adjustment, and mid adjustment to give you the superb sound you won’t be able to find in other IEMs on the market today.

What We Like

Impressive frequency range to 40 kHz

Independent switches on each IEM

Copper cables are 8-strand silver plated

Know Before Buying

Impedance ranges from 16-32 ohms

Uses 6x BA drivers

Unique looking IEM exterior

See On Amazon

Affordable IEMs that offer extreme levels of comfort even after long hours of use, and offer a robust frequency range reaching 19 kHz.

See On Amazon
  • Size
    • 9 grams
  • Style
    • Wired
    • Detachable cable
  • Features
    • Six total BA drivers
    • Frequency range up to 19 kHz
    • 1.6m long detachable cable

These IEMs are a great option for anyone that spends several hours wearing their monitors. The level of comfort on these earpieces is almost second to none, and they even include an additional four sets of silicone ear tips so you can find the best fit and highest level of comfort for your ears. A perfect fit gives you the best option for sound reproduction as well as noise isolation so don’t be afraid to take time and try out the other earpiece options.

Each earpiece has three BA drivers, giving you a total of six that can span a frequency range from 20 Hz to 19 kHz. This will give you an outstanding return on audio quality regardless of the genre or style of audio you may be listening to. These IEMs are great for on-stage or studio use and once fitted to your ear properly will offer a very high level of noise isolation.

Each of the balanced armature drivers will give you outstanding bass lows, well balanced mids, and crystal clear highs. This precise audio reproduction helps you make editing and sampling choices to help take your audio performances to the next level. The impedance on these IEMs reaches 30 ohms so you can use them with a wide variety of audio and recording devices.

What We Like

Robust frequency range

Three BA drivers in each ear

Extremely comfortable after hours

Know Before Buying

Reaches 30 ohms

Detachable cable can be heavy

Best performance in isolated listening

See On Amazon

Buyers Guide for the Best IEMs Under $500

Wireless in-ear earphones on wood table, 3D illustration

Things to Consider When Buying an IEM

Finding the right IEM for your needs can be a bit time consuming, however comparing all of the features and deciding what is right for you is an important step. You don’t want to get an IEM that seemed okay at the start only to find out it falls short in some areas that are important to you.

IEMs of all types have a range of features you can consider. Noise canceling is an important feature to consider, especially if you’ll be using your IEMs near instruments or in busy rooms. If you plan on keeping your IEM usage confined to quiet studio use, noise canceling may not be a big concern. Aside from that, there are many more important and vital features and considerations to keep in mind. Let’s go over those now.

Driver Type

Most IEM drivers will be around the 10mm size, though smaller or larger drivers are not hard to find. A driver can be found in different types including planar magnetic, dynamic, hybrid, balanced armature, and more. You’ll normally want to go with a dynamic driver, though a balanced armature driver is another exceptionally good choice and can be found in much smaller sizes.

Planar magnetic drivers are usually on the much higher price range, and will normally only be something to consider if you are willing to make a sizable investment into your audio hobby or profession. If you’re just starting out or simply want a more budget friendly option when it comes to an IEM, balanced armature or dynamic drivers are the way to go.

Impedance and Frequency Response

Both the impedance range and the frequency response will have a direct impact on how good your audio sounds. When it comes to impedance, the quality may depend on how compatible the IEM is with your device.

Having a wide frequency response range will give you a better return on your low bass and high trebles. A larger range also helps make sounds seem more crisp and clear, with less distortion when hitting the extreme notes.

Most IEMs will cover a 20 Hz to 20 kHz range, though some may go much lower or higher. A 20 hZ to 20 kHz range will reproduce the entire audible spectrum and will be perfectly fine for both average and many professional users.

Cable Connectors

Cabling is important with your IEM as it will be the connection between you and your devices. Most cables are MMCX or 2-PIN. Many people will go for the MMCX cabling over the 2-PIN for the better all-around quality and reliability it offers.

In addition to the cable type, keep in mind that cables will come in different lengths as well. Most will be around 6 feet long, though some can be much longer and a few will be shorter. If you plan on staying near your recording or playback device, cable length may not be much of a concern. But if you are doing studio work with instruments or standing to sing vocals, a longer and more flexible cable may be important to you.

Comfort Levels

IEMs can be worn in a couple different ways, either over the ear or hanging from the ear. But either way you choose to wear them, they are still an in-ear device and comfort is key, especially if you plan on wearing your IEMs for extended periods of time.

Comfort is a highly subjective trait, and what is comfortable for one person may not be comfortable for another. Various factors on the IEM can determine the level of comfort a user will get. These include the weight of each IEM, the shape of the in-ear piece, the size and softness of the foam or silicone pad, the length of the cord and whether or not you might hit the end of it and yank the IEM out of your ear.

You’ll also want to consider IPX ratings on your IEMs. This is the moisture resistance of the in-ear monitors. For long-term use, an IPX rating of 4 or higher will help prevent sweat and skin oils from damaging the monitors. It also helps prevent fingerprints and dust from collecting on the exterior and giving the IEMs an aged or grungy look.

Included Accessories

Wireless headphones. Use for business meetings with translator. No people

IEMs will normally come with a small accessories pack that includes some necessary and extra items. These can include the carrying case, USB cables or Bluetooth dongles for some hybrid or detachable models, and a variety of different sized foam or silicone ear pads.

While these accessories are not a necessity and have no impact on the sound quality you will get from your IEM, it’s sometimes a nice touch for companies to include a few customizable options or alternate components to suit a wide variety of user needs.

Conclusion

Best Balanced Armature Driver IEM Under $500
Best Ergonomic Fit IEM Under $500
Best Wired IEM Under $500

From live music sampling to doing a variety of in-studio audio editing, finding the right IEM can help take your music or vocals to a new level. Being able to hear a wide range of frequencies can help keep your editing accurate and professional, which in turn helps create more of a following of fans and admirers.

By selecting the right IEM for your use, you can quickly go from a casual hobby to a professional career. Don’t be afraid to spend time trying out a few different IEMs or learning about the wide range of features until you find one that compliments your needs nicely.