Top 5 IEMs under $500

Top 5 IEMs under $500
Steven Harbertson

As a Drummer, Sound Engineer and Operations Manager for a production company I’ve been through my fair share of IEMs in a broad range of pricing. When cost vs quality is your main priority, these 5 IEMs are my top selection.

Dunu DN-2002 $375
I have to admit I was dubious over the pricing from an Taiwanese company, however these provide a comfortable fit and fantastic sound from the quad drivers. I would also be happy to say the seal is the best I’ve had for a generic IEM. Provided with a solid hard case these are the best generics on the market (IMO) but obviously it comes with a hefty price tag.

DreamEarz AUD-1X $265
DreamEarz is a Florida based company offering custom IEMs at competitive pricing. This is a single driver model but they also offer the 2X and 3X within the $500 budget. Solid personalised case is a nice touch but the most important thing is the quality. When I first tried this they compared very well with my EU based triple driver IEMs I was astounded by the quality of fit, I chose the DrumEarz model, as a drummer this best suited me. The obvious benefit of customs is a better seal (usually due to a near perfect fit) and better bass response. It has this for sure and I dare not imagine how good the 2X and 3X models would sound. DreamEarz comes with my highest recommendation as a professional product with zero faults.

Alclair Curve $249
Alclair are well known in the IEM market as Custom Providers however the Curve is a generic.  My first impression was that these have a professional look and are as close to a custom look when worn than any generic I’ve seen. The fit, sound quality and build quality are exactly what you would expect for the price. Bass is punchy, mid just seems to settle in and the highs although pronounced don’t make you feel like your ears are hurting. There is a little issue with removing the units as I have fat fingers and you really have to dig to get them out but I think this is a ‘give and take’ situation as you won’t get the sleek smooth look with leaving part of the IEM sticking out. The case is nice to carry and comes with a carabiner to attach to clothing or bags. It’s not a hard case but it’s feels quite solid.

Fender FXA5 $299
For those who didn’t know Fender bought Aurisonics (an already established custom and generic supplier). The FXA5 is a great unit, anytime you can stand outside JFK Airport with IEMs in, no music and not hear the traffic you know you have a winner on the seal. The bass response is immense but it doesn’t overpower the full sound emitted from the dual drivers. My only reservation is the size of the IEM, it’s a little two big in my opinion and I’d like to see Fenders next line to come with slightly smaller units. I can see these really going down well with guitarists given Fenders reputation in guitar world.

MEE Audio M6 Pro $49.99
If you have $500 to spend you don’t buy these first. However if you have $100 then I’d seriously consider them. I really like the feel and again ‘for the price’ I think the sound quality is equal or above the Shure models twice it’s price. These are very popular models in the musician world I live in.
The case is not hard plastic and is also one of the bigger cases. It it does come with a smart phone compatible replaceable cable with built in microphone though. If your low on budget then these are for you, if your not low on budget then I assume you rely heavily on your IEMs and as such these are a must have backup pair. In a world where more and more venues are offering IEM monitor mixes and removing the stage monitors you need to be prepared with a backup pair in case your expensive IEMs die. I would say if you’re a performing musician then the M6Pro is an essential accessory to have.


About Steven:

Steven is a drummer, production engineer and Operations Manager for Dram Tree Productions. Dram Tree Productions is a Global provider of Audio Visual equipment for the corporate meetings environment.