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Musician on stage with in-ear monitors on.
audiophile or musician – Good IEM can make your music incredible

It’s true. The more you spend on your IEM, the better they sound.

Anyone who has ever fantasized about making it big as a big music star has probably done so while imagining what kind of equipment they’ll be playing with. If that’s the case, then you’ll probably want to give some thought as to what kind of IEM you’ll be using.

These specialized earpieces allow musicians to hear themselves while they play better than inexpensive earbuds or other alternatives, thus allowing for a higher standard of concentration and clarity.

Editor’s Pick

Ultimate Ears UE 7 Pro IEMs

UE has continued to excel at producing crowd-pleasing custom and universal IEMs. The UE 7 sit nicely in the middle of the price range but still offers excellent audio production. It’s hard to separate any of the IEM on the list as they all have strong, unique audio profiles but the UE 7 are a solid choice.
Shure SE846 In-ear monitors
Also Consider
If you’re looking for an impressive universal IEM and don’t want to faff about with getting ear molds done then the Shure SE846 are a great pick. The sub-bass is really impressive and fit is really good for a universal IEM. Shure have been doing this a long time and know-how to get the most out of universal in-ear monitors.

Of course, quality comes at a cost – but just how high of a cost? After all, you may have superstar talent, but that doesn’t mean you’re receiving superstar pay. Having to shell out a few thousand dollars just for an IEM can introduce your musical fantasies to a cold dose of reality.

However, getting an IEM doesn’t have to mean shelling out a cool thousand. There are plenty of great IEMs on the market that are way more affordable and can help you start the path to making those fantasies a reality.

Of course if you do want to go the budget route, we’ve already covered that here and here.

What to Look for in an IEM

To start at the beginning, an IEM is marked by its ability to seal off your ear canal and isolate sound better than your average earbud. This indicates the two most important things to look for in an IEM – sound isolation and overall sound quality.

You’ll also want to make sure that the IEM transmitter doesn’t create feedback problems with your speakers. This can create a harsh buzzing or whining sound that may be audible to the performer, their fellow musicians and singers, the audience, or all three.

This naturally raises the question of connectivity. In the case of IEMs, you typically have a choice between wired and wireless options.

The former can reduce the risk of interference or feedback issues on your end, ensuring the greatest degree of clarity possible. Just as metal, walls, and other objects can cause interference for a radio or EarPods, it can do the same for IEMs. On the other hand, you might feel like you’ve “Got the World on a String” or you’re singing Bob Dylan’s “Tangled up in Blue,” but you definitely don’t want to be “tangled up” with cords strung all around you while you perform, and wireless IEMs allow you more freedom on stage.

Then there’s the matter of noise reduction and cancellation. When you perform onstage, you don’t just need to have the music pieces in your ear loud enough so you can hear them over your fellow bandmates, but over the crowd as well, and when that’s potentially tens of thousands of screaming fans, it can get hard to hear yourself play – just ask the Beatles at Shea Stadium, or fangirl veterans of the Boyband Wars of the 90s and BTS today. (Lest you think this is a recent phenomenon, no such “Liszt” is complete without mentioning the “Lisztomania” for the famed German composer and piano virtuoso, with Victorian women tossing him clothes and tearing his off.)

Legions of screaming fans is the kind of “problem” you fantasize about, obviously, but still, it means you need a music piece in your ear that cancels out external sound and traps the sound in your ear, allowing you to hear and focus on the music you’re playing.

Of course, to play effectively as a band, you need to be able to hear one another, which is why good IEMs can also connect to a central transmitter and broadcast the playing of you and your fellow bandmates.

Finally, you need to spare a thought to how comfortably IEMs will fit in your ear. While earbuds, IEMs, and custom IEMs – an even more expensive alternative – typically fit reasonably comfortably in your ear, I’m pretty content with the balance between comfort and value IEMs offer.

Until you start to really pick up traction in your career, you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for a custom-molded one. The comfortable sound-cancelling fit of a standard IEM should do just fine.

Top Eight Best IEMs for Less Than $1000

1. Shure SE846-CL IEMs

This is a Universal IEM

Drivers: 4 x Custom Drivers

Cable is: Detachable (MMCX)

Frequency Range: 15 Hz – 20 kHz

Shure SE846 IEM

One thing I’m “Shure” about when it comes to this model is that it’s one of if not the best on this list for raw sound reproduction. If all you care about is the quality of the audio, this may well be the model for you. It’s already a favorite with audiophiles, and it isn’t hard to see why.

It comes with three separate “nozzles” that can be swapped out to change up the listening experience, but more importantly than that, the numbers are incredible: 16 Ohms, sensitive up to 110 dB with up to 37 dB of sound attenuation, and an enormous frequency range between 15 and 20,000 Hz.

If there is any downside to these IEMs it’s that they are on the expensive side for this list (around $830 to $900) and they’re a bit bland looking. Still, if all you care about is the overall sound quality, this is easily one of the best in-ear monitors under $1,000 for that purpose.

There is also an optional bundle for the SE846 with a BT1 or BT2 bluetooth cable.

2. Linsoul Shuoer EJ07 IEM

This is a Hybrid IEM

Drivers: 1 x Electrostatic Tweeter / 1 x Dynamic Driver / 1 x Balanced Armature Driver

Cable is: Detachable (2 Pin Cable)

Frequency Range: 20-20kHz

Linsoul Shuoer EJ07 in-ear monitors

This one is also a bit on the expensive side, but it also comes through in terms of overall sound quality. It offers three different types of drivers and is sensitive up to 104 dB, has a frequency range around 20 kHz, and features 17 Ohms. All of this makes for a much simpler but still effective IEM.

This is a rare electrostatic driver IEM.

3: Sony IER-M7 in-ear monitors

This is a BA IEM

Drivers: 4 x Sony Balanced Armature Drivers

Cable is: Detachable (Balanced Cable)

Frequency Range: 10Hz-40kHz

Sony IER-M9 IEM earphones

These are much more affordable than the previous two models, hovering around $500.

Part of what sets this model apart is its unique T-shaped design, which allows it to rest easily on the ear while driving the diaphragm in such a way as to produce crisper, clearer notes. The material is also reasonably durable, integrating a magnesium alloy into its construction that doubles in helping to eliminate excessive vibration, further clarifying the sound. It also has an impressive frequency range of 10 to 40,000 Hz.

4. JH Audio JH 11 Pro IEM

This is a Custom IEM

Drivers: 4 x Precision-Balanced Armatures

Cable is: Detachable (4 Pin Cable)

Frequency Range: 10Hz-17kHz

JH Audio JH11 custom IEM
JH Audio JH11 Pro

While the options listed so far have their fair share of standard color options, maybe that’s not good enough for you. Maybe you want to rock a cool custom design for that near-$1,000 price tag as well.

If so, the JH11 Pro may be the model for you. It comes in a huge array of different style options, so if you’ve ever wanted to sing some sultry jazz tunes while rocking Jessica Rabbit-style IEMs, these are the IEMs for you. They boast 18 Ohms, have a sensitivity of 119 dB, and a frequency range of 10 Hz to 17 kHz.

You will need to get ear molds done for these custom IEM.

All of this makes these options by far one of the best fusions of form and function among the IEMs on this list.

5. Empire Ears EVR (UNIVERSAL) IEM

This is a Universal IEM

Drivers: 3 x Custom Empire Balanced Armatures

Cable is: Detachable (2 Pin Cable)

Frequency Range: 10Hz-40kHz

Empire Ears EVR Universal in-ear Monitors
Empire Ears EVR Universal in-ear Monitors

This model has been meticulously crafted with Grammy-winning producer Sam AsH, and it shows. They are sleek, chic, and do a great job of capturing the feeling of listening to music in the studio. This model features separate drivers for high, low, and mid frequencies via special three-way synX technology, which helps eliminate interference and incoherence, producing cleaner, crisper sound.

This model has 12 Ohms, a frequency range of 10 Hz to 40kHz and is sensitive to 115 dB.

6. UE 7 PRO Custom in-ear Monitors

This is a Custom IEM

Drivers: 3 x Balanced Armatures

Cable is: Detachable (SuberBax MMCX)

Frequency Range: 5Hz-22kHz

UE 7 In-ear Monitor
UE 7 IEMs

This model has 124 dB, a frequency response range of 5 Hz to 22 kHz, and 17.5 Ohms. At around $900, it is a bit more expensive than a couple of the more affordable options on this list that offer a comparable or superior experience.

That being said, it still does a great job of isolating sound, offers some good customizable color and options, and is especially well-suited for guitarists, vocalists, classical, and jazz musicians.

7. Sennheiser IE 500 IEM

This is a Universal IEM

Drivers: 1 x 7mm Dynamic Driver

Cable is: Detachable (Proprietary Ducted Cable)

Frequency Range: 6Hz-20kHz

Sennheiser IE 500 Pro IEM - Best iem under $1000
Sennheiser IE 500 Pro IEM | Source Sennheiser

While I’m not always someone who buys based on brand name recognition alone, there is something to be said for the respect that comes with years or even decades of excellence being attached to that name. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see one of the biggest names in music in Sennheiser here make a case for being the best IEM under $1,000.

What does this model do to live up to the Sennheiser name? Deliver impeccable acoustic sound that makes use of next-generation drivers to offer clear, nuanced sound across the entire frequency spectrum. It has an impressive frequency response range of 6 to 20,000 Hz, 16 Ohms, and sensitivity to around 126 dB. What’s more, despite the big-name brand, this is one of the more affordable options on this list at around $600.

8. Audio Technica ATH-IM04 in-ear monitors

This is a BA Universal IEM

Drivers: 4 x Balanced Armature (BA) Driver

Cable is: Detachable

Frequency Range: 15Hz-20kHz

Audio Technica ATH-IM04 IEM

At $400, this is by far the most affordable IEM for less than $1,000 on this list. The memory cable loops fit comfortably over and around your ears, and conform to the shape of them, making it that much comfier to put them on in the future.

Performance-wise, this model boasts three drivers that come together to offer sensitivity to 107 dB and a frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz.

Of all of these options, I especially like the Audio Technica’s affordability, pure sound clarity and crispness offered by Shure’s model, and the all-around brilliance of Sennheiser’s.

Still, picking an IEM is a highly personal choice for a musician, and these all have their upsides, so review these options for yourself and see which fits best with your musical dreams.

Summary

In summary, finding the best iem under $1000 is both a very difficult and very easy thing to achieve.

It’s difficult because there are a lot of great iem brands and models in that $500-$1000 price bracket and they are all making really great in-ear monitors.

It’s also difficult because each IEM in this price range has a really unique sound signature so you want to choose one that is right for you. And, when some of these are custom iem you sometimes need to buy based on reviews.

The easy part is that there are a lot to choose from and you can trust the brands we’ve included in the above list. I’ve worked in the industry long enough to know all of them and if they didn’t make good audio gear they wouldn’t have made the list.

If you’re new to in-ear monitors check out my introduction article and our other IEM buying guides.

Any questions? Ask below.

UE 7 In-ear Monitors under 1000
Ultimate Ears UE 7 Pro IEMs
Value for Money
Sound Quality
Build Quality
What we like (Pros)
Ultimate Ears do one of the best earmolds for CIEM
Excellent sound quality
Price is good at this quality
What we like less (Cons)
CIEM takes work to get molds done
4.5

This post was last updated on 2020-11-02 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.


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