What Are The Best IEMs for Me in 2023?

What Are The Best IEMs for Me in 2023?

With the audiophile IEM market getting what feels like a new release every other week, it's hard to keep track of what may suit your tastes and preferences and what may not with a quickly evolving space. It can be a bit overwhelming to see the difference between so many IEMs with various price tags, driver configurations, shell sizes, and even wired vs TWS – so we’re going to do our best to break down the ins and outs of which IEMs broke onto the scene this year and really moved the needle, and which IEMs have stood the test of time and still hold a good spot in the discussion today. 

TWS - A Quick Overview 

I feel as though I’d be doing a disservice to everyone reading this if I didn’t highlight the great advances we’ve made in sound quality for TWS IEMs if I didn’t give a quick run through of some units that grabbed my attention this year. If you want a more in depth look, check out the overview I did earlier in the year, though some mentioned here are new to our store.

Best for the Money - 1MORE Evo 

1More Evo earbuds in their case on a wooden headphone stand from the Bloom Audio gallery

1MORE Evo was introduced to me at CanJam Chicago 2022 and I got a sense that the Evo was a bit different from the AirPods Pro Gen 1 that I was using at the time. With a more present and full mid range than that of my AirPods, I felt as though the overall vocal clarity was much more suited to my taste – and while I still feel like Evo could be sharper in the highs – with the well presented low end, that's got enough kick and punch to satisfy bass heads and the more discerning listener alike, makes Evo a great addition to any audiophile’s collection at $109. Not to mention the size and comfort of these buds make for a very accommodating fit. Don’t forget the 1MORE Evo next time you’re in the market for a budget friendly TWS IEM. 

My Overall Favorite - Final ZE8000

 Final Audio ZE8000 next to their case on a wooden table with a stone wall and wood pillars in the background from the Bloom Audio gallery

A question we’re asked by attendees at CanJam most of the time is simple, “well, what's your favorite here on the table?” and it's a question I love to answer. Though I have the luxury of listening to a wide variety of products daily, I still have clear favorites. ZE8000, is a clear favorite of mine. ZE8000’s resolution across the board exemplifies the advancements clearly made in TWS. Boasting a top end that's highly resolving and defined, bass that has great rumble (even better texture), and a midrange that doesn’t leave out any ounce of detail, like the crunch of a guitar, or in the breath of a vocalist. Pair all those great qualities with solid staging and imaging to boot, and you got yourself quite the complete package. 

The Best of the Best - Noble FoKus Prestige 

Noble FoKus Prestige next to their case resting on a leather couch from the Bloom Audio gallery

Similarly to sports, you can have a favorite player and admit that they’re not the best. And even with the ZE8000 being my favorite, it's hard to listen to the Prestige and say it's not the top of the pack. I was a bit skeptical of those claiming that the Mystique was the best TWS currently on the market, and fresh off the heels of voicing that opinion in my article and video mentioned previously, I approached the Noble Audio booth at CanJam Chicago 2023 to hear what looked like a new TWS - low and behold, it was the Prestige. After a quick paring, thanks to the Prestige’s new PCB board, I quickly thought to myself  “I may need to update my article…” Noble FoKus Prestige gripped me fast with its sound signature, and while I was accustomed to the booming bass in the low end from the Mystique, the now much more full and present midrange that put vocals exactly where I wanted them erased all my previous claims of what I thought weighed the Mystique down. I still believe the top end resolution could be a bit cleaner and sharper, but Noble quickly addressed my number one flaw with the Mystique, and it's much easier now to give Prestige its crown. 

Wired IEMs - The Overview 

Now moving into wired IEMs, I’ll present a price bracket, then pick three IEMs that fit a certain sound signature: Neutral that I think are mostly flat in their sound signature and should please those mostly looking for a less bassy set. Balanced that have a fun nature to them, but still stay mostly in between fun and resolving, and Bassy which present a bit more low end than others. 

IEMs Under $500

Neutral: Ucotech RE-2 

Ucotech RE-2 hanging from a dark stained wooden headphone stand from the Bloom Audio gallery

RE-2 nearly defines the word neutral for me, with quite the resolving nature up top, and a low end that never gets in the way of the other frequencies of music. Ucotech RE-2 makes folk, country, and classical guitar a dream to listen to with beautiful detail and clarity in the midrange. RE-2, when paired with a musician such as Marty Robbins, makes the raspy voice that details legendary stories of gunslingers and cowboys come alive when every pick of his guitar has such intimacy and presence, and with treble that isn’t afraid to teeter the line of highly resolving and slightly bright. RE-2 is a common suggestion from us when asked by customers for a budget friendly IEM, and at $109, Ucotech RE-2 somewhat redefines what budget friendly IEMs are capable of. It is certainly a top contender for someone looking for a neutral sound signature in an IEM, regardless of price. 

Balanced: Sennheiser IE 200

Sennheiser IE 200 on a white table plugged into a blue audio player. Picture provided by Sennheiser

I truly think there's a genuine case for IE 200 to land in bassy territory, though I wanted to keep it in balanced, as I think it really is a great all rounder. You can certainly hear the dynamic driver boom in the bass on an EDM record, but you can also hear some of that top end sizzle on an orchestra track that displays its ability and willingness to go deep in its treble extension with a long drawn out violin solo. IE 200 does a phenomenal job at playing multiple genres and showing off their best qualities. Whether being impressed by IE 200’s vocal clarity, its low end that has rumble and the slightest bit of bleed, or its top end that never comes across as smoothed out, IE200 has a little bit of everything for anyone in the market of a capable IEM that won’t break the bank at $149. 

Bassy: Questyle NHB12 

Questyle NHB12 on top of a wood stained table with its cable and case next to each other from the Bloom Audio gallery

No questions here, if you want bass in your face at a price that's right, look no further. Questyle NHB12 may have a low end that's too much for its own doing at times, but the NHB12 has serious ability across the board. While the big claim to fame has been “The World’s First Apple MFi certified true lossless earphones,” (having a lightning jack at the end of its cable, no comment further) the NHB12 is much more than that. Questyle managed to make this IEM enjoyable outside of its impressive tech, with bold vocals that stand out like the artist is singing in front of you. Guitars are full and detailed, with tracks from Polyphia having that much more flair and zing when Tim Hennson’s creative rifts have an abundance of weight to them. Bass guitars and 808’s can often steal the show, with rumble enough to rattle your skull and emulate a party in your head. NHB12 may catch you visually from its dazzling looks and class leading tech, but it also has a lot more to offer under the hood as well. 

IEMs Under $1000

Neutral: Noble Audio Stage 3

Noble Audio Stage 3 on top of a dark green Eletech carrying bag from the Bloom Audio gallery

Noble Audio Stage 3 seems to have flown under the radar for a lot of audiophiles, but I think it has great character across the board. With its small shell size, accommodating to newcomers as well as audiophiles looking for an IEM capable of long listening sessions, Stage 3 presents a sound signature that is extremely safe and neutral throughout. Designed specifically for musicians on stage, hence the name, Noble focused on the tuning of this IEM to have a real emphasis on natural timbre across the board. Nothing feels exaggerated, out of place, or emphasized – but Noble was able to blend in an appropriate amount of musicality that really makes Stage 3 evoke emotion when listening to music. While I’ve never been a great musician myself, Stage 3 is an IEM I’d pick both for a live performance, as well as a sit down and relax listening session. 

Balanced: Meze ADVAR/Sennheiser IE 600

Meze Advar and Sennheiser IE 600 resting on a wooden table with a stone wall in the background from the Bloom Audio gallery

Having already included the IE 200, I wanted to make sure ADVAR got its flowers, but I simply couldn’t leave off one of the overall best bang for your bucks IEMs, the IE 600. Both of these IEMs present sharp, resolving treble, comforted by a booming and thick low end. They’re extremely comparable to say the least, and scratch that itch that comes with wanting a resolving and capable IEM that doesn’t compromise with a bland and hollow low end. Rather, IE 600 and ADVAR have a certain synergy with rock music that gives cymbals crashing, guitars whaling, and vocals screaming a sense of energy to them that makes for an unrivaled listening session. Whether its being impressed by the reproduction of the strings in The Beatles’ “Elanor Rigby,” or the pure chaos of the heavy guitar and drums that is in “Break Stuff” from Limp Bizkit, IE 600 and ADVAR have a tuning that will allow you to enjoy both in entirely different ways. 

Bassy: ThieAudio Monarch MKIII 

ThieAudio Monarch MKIII resting on a leather couch from the Bloom Audio gallery

Make way for the king. Coming in under a dollar of our price bracket, it’d be a crime punishable by death to leave off what's clearly the hottest IEM of 2023, Monarch MKIII. I hope defining the MKIII as bassy doesn’t come across as one dimensional – as though the MKIII has a copious amount of bass, it also delivers extraordinary treble and a solid midrange to boot. I’ll be the first to admit that while I enjoy the upper mids of the MKII a bit better in comparison, MKIII still does a good job presenting vocals in an up front and intimate way. Treble feels slightly callmer this time as well, but ThieAudio has managed to capture a certain energy in the treble that keeps listeners on their toes. Then comes the sub bass and mid bass duo that creates an impactful and illustrious low end that is the centerpiece to an incredibly enjoyable and satisfying sound signature. No matter the genre, Monarch MKIII can deliver a melody that has great detail and delivery, but will also certainly satisfy the basshead looking to bring the house down. 

IEMs Under $2000 

Neutral: HiFiMan Svanar

HiFiMan Svanar on a black ledge next to a wooden poll from the Bloom Audio gallery

I went back and forth on this one quite a bit. I think there's arguments that could be presented against me to put this in balanced, but I really think HiFiMan – even with a slight overall sense of warmth and low end presence – made this IEM with a neutral tuning target in mind. Similarly to MKIII, Svanar comes in under a dollar of our price bracket, just technically qualifying in this price range. I think Svanar captures what everyone wants in HiFiMan’ headphones so well in an IEM form factor. Great sense of space between instruments and imaging that makes deciphering where instruments are incredibly easy. The midrange is pulled back slightly, but not enough to really say there's a large emphasis in either the bass or treble, so vocals are well centered and the overall midrange fills the space Svanar creates well and makes for a complete and coherent sound. Bass is where the arguments could be said to put this in balanced, but I believe Svanar’s low end control separates it from that classification as it really doesn’t tend to bleed at all into the midrange. And while treble has a certain type of liquid smoothness to it, it flows well with the overall sound signature, creating a distinguished and neutral sound signature throughout. While HiFiMan may best be known for their headphones, they certainly left 2023 with their foot in the door of the IEM scene. 

Balanced: Campfire Audio Bonneville 

Campfire Audio Bonneville on a black show floor table next to a Astell&Kern KANN MAX and spinfit W1 eartips from the Bloom Audio gallery

Part of me wanted to put the 64 Audio U12t and call it a day here, but where's the fun in that? Campfire Audio Bonneville impressed me greatly in my listening session at CanJam SoCal 2023, and with units hitting our store just recently, my belief in this IEM was only bolstered. As one of the most resolving Campfire Audio IEMs that I’ve heard to date, Bonneville blends a certain amount of fun in a mostly detailed first sound signature that really makes the tonality of the Bonneville a joy to listen to. With some emphasis in the overall low end, Bonneville can bounce around from genre to genre and level out its desire to solely focus on the details by adding some musicality and overall warmth to the sound signature. Bonneville’s overall accuracy and acute sense of making every track it plays a well balanced blend of sharp highs and thunderous lows makes for a breath of fresh air in Campfire’s lineup, and a clear winner (in my opinion) in the Chromatic series. 

Bassy: Noble Audio Spartacus 

Noble Audio Spartacus on a black industrial railing next to a wooden pole from the Bloom Audio gallery

Noble stayed busy this year, creating quite a few IEM entries to keep us entertained. Spartacus is an IEM Noble Audio tuned specifically with North America in mind as they’re abundantly aware of how much we enjoy our bass. Spartacus charges ahead with a sound signature that isn’t compromised and while the treble could be characterized as smooth, I think there's a real sense of clarity and resolution here that Noble has gotten right in so many of their other IEMs. The mid range shouldn’t be skimmed over either, although it is a bit shielded by the bass, there's a real sense of sweetness there that compliments Spartacus's arsenal of sound characteristics. Of course, the bass is why we bought a ticket, and it does not disappoint here. Noble found a true sweetspot with the amount of low end they were able to put in Spartacus, as initially you aren’t blown away by its bass presentation, but the longer you listen with Spartacus, the more you understand its innate ability to bring electronic and most modern day music alive with a great sense of energy. 

IEMs Under $3000

Neutral: Campfire Audio Solaris Stellar Horizon

Campfire Audio Solaris Stellar Horizon on top of its warranty card which is resting on a knotty wooden table from the Bloom Audio gallery

This may have been the toughest pick on the list. Solaris Stellar Horizon was my choice for the best in class when Campfire Audio released the Trifecta and Emerald Sea, and it beat them out by a good margin. Solaris Stellar Horizon has been my pick as Campfire’s most thoughtful and neutral tuning as of recent, though Campfire doesn’t always play by the rules of tuning targets. While this wouldn’t need much argument for me to sway this IEM into balanced, Solaris Stellar Horizon doesn’t emphasize much in its general sound signature. Bass is relatively controlled, with maybe a slight bass shelf, but for the most part it has a good thump with no bloat or major impact. Midrange blends well into the sound signature, not being too forward or pushed back, rather just where it needs to be, and treble is really neither sharp or smooth, just reaching those resolving areas without ever getting sibilant or lost due to congestion from the other bodies of music. I find Stellar Horizon to be Campfire Audio’s safest tuning, and if you’re looking for something mostly neutral in their lineup, it just may be worth exploring. 

Balanced: 64 Audio Volur 

64 Audio Volur on top of a miniature painting with the cable next to it resting on a wooden stool from the Bloom Audio gallery

64 Audio Volur is a complete anomaly to me. I still have not nailed down the general consensus on whether or not 64 Audio Volur is a complete and utter basshead IEM, or an overall balanced tuning with a slight bass emphasis. On one hand, I listen to it and bop my head with the punch and slam that the dynamic drivers produce, but then I compare it to other IEMs we have in our office, and I’m left questioning everything. I’m happy to put it in balanced as I think it should appease myself and most readers. Classification aside, let's get one thing straight – this IEM is absolutely superb, no debate necessary there. 64 Audio managed to make sure the Volur didn’t come up short in any areas. Bass, like I mentioned, punches, kicks, slams, you name it – it does it. Midrange is amongst the best I’ve heard this year, with everything, vocals especially, exactly where it needs to be in the mix. The notorious 64 Audio Tia driver goes deep and gets a touch hot at times, bringing resolution and clarity to a clear focal point. 64 Audio made something truly special with Volur, and I consider it quite possibly the pinnacle of their lineup. Mic drop. 

Bassy: Vision Ears VE10

Vision Ears VE10 on a velvet display stand from the Bloom Audio gallery

While VE10 hasn’t landed yet in 2023, it's slated for release soon, and attendees at various shows this year have gotten a chance to hear it. VE10 combines notes from the original Phonix and EXT to make an IEM focused on delivering all the proper intangibles, with some extra heft in the lower mid frequencies that only bolster its low end presence. VE10 may just be the most well rounded Vision Ears IEM I’ve heard to date, with the lush mid range that Phonix was able to produce so well, in addition to the low end that EXT excels at. Vision Ears has become one of my favorite brands in the space, and I believe VE10 will be well received by those looking for some extra kick, without sacrificing the overall detail retrieval as well as the holographic imaging and soundstage we’ve come to expect from every Vision Ears entry. 

The Multi Kilobuck IEMs 

Neutral: Empire Ears Raven

Empire Ears Raven coiled with its cable on a stained wooden table with its case next to it from the Bloom Audio gallery

Empire Ears Raven is deceiving. Looking at the driver configuration should quickly point you to the fact that this should not be listed as neutral. Although the bass has a presence, I never felt like it was overwhelmingly thunderous as much as Empire Ears said. And although the bass is very well extended and textured, it never feels like it has much more of a resolving nature than that of the midrange or treble. In fact, I find the reverb on vocals, or strings in classical music to extend further than the bass on most tracks. I also find Raven’s technical details like the staging and imaging to be the highlight of its sound signature, and was really the first IEM to introduce me to a true holographic imaging experience. Raven does plenty right across the board, establishing its position as a bonafide star in the multi kilobuck price bracket. 

Balanced: Vision Ears x Astell&Kern Aura 

Vision Ears Aura IEM next to its cable on a knotty wooden stool from the Bloom Audio gallery

While I wasn’t huge on previous A&K collabs, such as the Pathfinder and Odyssey, Aura seems to have broken the mold and developed something truly special here. Lowend can pop at times, leaning Aura slightly fun, then at times it will put the artists’ vocals on full display, almost as if you’re in a concert hall yourself, and then at times, you get this deep and extended treble that leaves you thinking it's the highlight of the whole sound signature. Aura doesn’t excel in one position, as a matter of fact, it excels in all of them. Quickly becoming a Bloom favorite, Aura managed to find its way on each of our desks for an extended period of time. From its beautiful and intricate design, to its thoughtful and incredibly balanced sound signature, it’s hard to find a fault with Aura. Aura proudly sits among plenty of other multi kilobuck IEMs, but few can say they share similar sound characteristics of Aura’s.

Bassy: FiR Audio Radon 6

FiR Audio Radon 6 on top of its leather case resting on a wooden table with a stone wall in the background from the Bloom Audio gallery

FiR’s magnum opus. Radon 6 has exploded in popularity since its release, garnishing rave reviews from listeners and Bloom colleagues alike. While its comfort and venting technology may captivate you during long listening sessions, make sure to stay awhile to feel FiR’s kinetic bass which immerses you deeper in the music. Kinetic bass gets you closer to a film score like Michael Giacchino’s “The Batman” with its ability to let you feel and understand just how hard the drummer used his kickdrum. It does this while producing a well balanced blend of midrange and treble resolution that not only compliments Radon 6’s sound signature, but completes it. Radon 6 competes with a lot of other great IEMs at its price range, but when you combine its excellent sound signature with its top shelf comfort, you start to wonder which flagship IEM offers a more complete package.


Looking back on 2023, there was plenty to be excited about like advances in TWS IEMs, more budget friendly IEMs reshaping their respective price points, and very exciting flagships that pushed the boundaries of what we thought were possible in audio. And although there's a wide variety of IEMs on this list, we’re always eager and excited to listen to something new, so don’t hesitate to hit us up in person at CanJam or through our live chat to share something that you’ve enjoyed listening to.