The in-ear monitors (also called IEMs) are designed to provide superior noise isolation and deep bass reproduction. They are widely used by musicians on the stage, DJs, and audiophiles that value high-quality audio reproduction.
You must be thinking that they are mostly used by people who work in the music industry, but that is not actually true. They provide better noise isolation and sound quality than habitual earbuds and also stick into the ears very firmly thanks to which they may be considered as one of the best earphones for physical exercises.
Why choose IEMs? Most people choose them because of the portability they offer and their ability to block out unnecessary noises. They have become very popular when many manufacturers started to produce them not only for professional use but for the general consumer as well.
As a music lover, interested in the in-ear monitors, you probably want the best ones. So, in order to make the right choice, you need to be aware of some information about such kinds of earphones as the IEMs.
What about drivers?
Most people think that more drivers mean better sound as they are able to ensure a wider dynamic range, but that is not actually the case of in-ear monitors. Of course, those models that have 8-12 drivers extend the frequency range in a significant way, but for casual use, that will be a waste of money.
Wired or Wireless?
Like most other earphones, the IEMs can be wired or wireless. However, in this case, the wired models are more popular than wireless as they provide a cleaner sound and are less expensive. This way, only people who move a lot and need freedom of movement will benefit from wireless models.
Importance of the ear-tips
Since the in-ear monitors enter right in the ear canal, the ear-tips are very important. They must have the perfect size for your ear and be made of high-quality material.
The IEMs, as a rule, have ear-tips of several types: made of soft plastic, foam, or made of hard acrylic or soft silicone material (there are also hybrid, soft and hard types, but they are rarely found).
The soft plastic tips sometimes have two or three protrusions that allow them to be inserted into the ears to the required depth. However, they often cause a disturbance. This way, it’s better to ensure that the IEMs come with at least three ear-tips of different sizes (small, medium, and large) so you could choose what suits your ears more.
The foam tips provide the highest level of sealing, and, as a result, the highest level of sound isolation and comfort. They also contribute to a fuller, warmer, and more pleasant sound than plastic or silicone ones. However, it should be noted that foam ear-tips can’t be cleaned and must be replaced after several weeks of use. However, some manufacturers produce foam tips separately so you can easily buy them.
Other important tips
- Don’t spend your money on models with bells and whistles (like unusual design, colorful backlight or something). Pay attention only to important characteristics that influence the sound.
- If you consider comfort as a vital factor, you can get a custom-molded model instead of the universal one. It will be made specifically for your ear canal, providing superior protection from external noises as it will have a better seal on your ears. However, this option is obviously quite expensive.
- The IEMs for sports need to have a specific design. More precisely, they must be equipped with a headband. They also should have a high rating of water-resistance (at least IPX5) so they couldn’t be damaged by sweat.
- In terms of noise reduction function, you should remember that large-sized in-ear monitors not always better even if it seems so. Smaller models may provide better noise reduction even without Active Noise Cancellation technology (ANC) support. The level of external noise reduction is indicated in decibels: the higher number is better.
- The frequency response, provided by descent-quality IEMs, must reach about 25000 Hz. This means that a certain model is able to reproduce the sound with enough details.