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Top Reader Voted Custom IEMs

The following list contains our Top Reader-Voted Custom IEMs as ranked by the reader. Each ranking position is drawn from a review’s Reader’s Score and applies only to all reviews where an interactive slider voting system exists. If you are looking for universal IEMs only then click here.

Please note the list will change dynamically as readers continue to vote. Higher-scoring Custom IEMs will automatically replace lower-scoring Custom IEMs. They will also continue to change as we progressively work our way through historical reviews and activate a voting system.

These lists are not to be confused with our Award Scores which are the top gear reviewed and scored by our review team. Those scores will form the basis of our Awards at the end of the year. Once the year is completed the Award scores will be deleted and the ‘annual awards race’ will start over again.

Our latest guidelines for scoring can be found here.

Top 30 Reader-Voted Custom IEMs

JH Audio Jolene
The Jolene is a heck of an update to the line-up and a worthy flagship hybrid monitor for the JH Audio house sound. It all about natural tones, gritty and interesting texture, and tons of power on tap when you feel like upping that bass module adjuster.
9.2
Reader's Score
Starts from $1799 (Review Sample Design is $2349)
qdc Anole VX-S
There is nothing dry or sterile about the VX tuning. It takes that musical, slightly euphonic, and vocal-centric tuning of the V6 and adds low-end power, mids richness, and much more detail throughout.
9
Reader's Score
From $2436
Vision Ears VE8
The VE8 is about as musical and engaging as you can get from a CIEM and it does a masterful job of injecting some serious PRaT into rock and metal.
9
Reader's Score
Vision Ears Elysium
Granted I have personal preferences and I love a good mids tuning but still, the Elysium is a masterpiece and one of the best electrostatic custom monitors I have heard to date.
9
Reader's Score
64 Audio A12
Do you want something with fantastic bass extension, detail, and weight with super smooth treble and a balanced midrange with beautifully controlled vocals? That's the A12. Want a deep, 3-dimensional soundstage? That's the A12. Want something that just exudes a natural flowing tonality with no unnerving peaks? That's the A12.
9
Reader's Score
$1999.00
JH Audio Layla
The JH Audio Layla is perhaps my most sub-bass potent CIEM out of the 23 received to date. It delivers awesome power and a thick note reminiscent of a quality dynamic driver never mind multi-BA.
9
Reader's Score
Unique Melody Mason V3+
The Mason V3+ is a very natural sounding and expansive sounding flagship monitor. Especially so with the silver side of the dual-tone cable which still manages to retain that weighted full-bodied sound of the copper but with superior separation and treble articulation.
8.9
Reader's Score
64 Audio A18
Tonally the 64 Audio A18 hits its goals and then some. It is transparent, detailed but never boring, and sounds positively alive and never anything less than fully engaging.
8.9
Reader's Score
Vision Ears VE7
The VE7 performance is less 'bish bash' or hurried sounding and more nuanced with a very refined treble and just enough warmth and body on the low-end to create a very pleasing yet lively contrast.
8.9
Reader's Score
Unique Melody Mason V3
The Mason V3 is more resolving than the VE8 and more musical sounding than the A18. It is perhaps the perfect hybrid of both sounds. A musical and resolving sound with a coherent and balanced presentation, open mids, strong vocals and a non-fatiguing top-end. What is not to like about that?
8.9
Reader's Score
Unique Melody MEST MKII
The Unique Melody MEST MKII is an excellent smooth-sounding custom monitor with plenty of complex technology stuffed inside. You also get a quality design, some notable improvements externally such as the flat pocket 2-pin connectors, and that solid cable upgrade with the M2.
8.9
Reader's Score
Westone ES80
The Westone ES80 is an impressive reference-level custom monitor. The level of coherency from top to bottom is very nicely balanced and the timbre is natural but detailed to a level that is both involving and satisfying. It pairs really well with just about anything you throw at it.
8.8
Reader's Score
$1899
Vision Ears VE6 XControl
The sweet combination of massive staging, detailed vocal presence, and switchability between a slight bass bias (X1) and a relatively linear audiophile presentation (X2) is the icing on the cake. The shell artistry and first-rate finish are very smooth and comfortable with a fantastic seal.
8.8
Reader's Score
From €1900.84
FIR Audio M5
The M5's calling card is the excellent bass tuning combined with a really nice harmonic balance and energy through the upper mids and treble. It does not try to push too hard to what I would call an extreme tuning being neither V-shaped nor a detail-orientated reference monitor.
8.8
Reader's Score
Empire Ears Phantom
The Empire Ears Phantom has a very unique and at times beguiling tone and presentation. I absolutely love its smooth but voluptuous low-end and stronger lower-mids presence.
8.7
Reader's Score
From $1799
Custom Art FIBAE 7
Ah, no doubt the FIBAE 7 is Custom Art's best creation to date. It is still quite the CA house sound but it is more complex sounding now, more mature and refined. The magical sauce is how the F7 images so well for a soundstage that is not hugely expensive. It keeps things very clear but also very smooth and engaging at the same time.
8.7
Reader's Score
€1,100
Lime Ears Aether R
I can understand now why the Aether was so widely acclaimed and loved by many an audiophile. Granted I have yet to hear the original but that sweet timbre, musical but nicely balanced sound signature, and excellent vocal performance can be addictive at times.
8.6
Reader's Score
€1,200
Unique Melody Maestro V2
The Maestro V2 is actually quite a serious reworking of the old V1 sound. Gone are the more neutral midrange and the sparkling top-end of the V1 and in comes a darker, heavier hitting smoother sounding V2. They are very different in approach yet both are equally detailed and technically very good. The choice is simply down to preference for me personally.
8.6
Reader's Score
Unique Melody MEST Mini
Overall, I think Unique Melody proves they are prepared to take a risk with new ideas, and with the MEST it really works incredibly well. If you want the flavor of that bone conduction on a budget then the MEST Mini is very sensibly priced also.
8.6
Reader's Score
Empire Ears Valkyrie
Today, we are speaking to the bassheads. So, when I say the Valkyrie is a riot, a first-class monitor, and just a joy to listen to if you need that strong dynamic driver-driven bass response then you are the target market. For everyone else, go buy a Phantom or something similar.
8.6
Reader's Score
From $1599
qdc Anole V6
Well, what a marvelously tuned monitor this is. The qdc Anole V6-C is a triumph of good tuning over technical glorification. Six drivers might be middling and not by any stretch of the imagination are you getting the final word in micro-detail or vast staging control.
8.6
Reader's Score
qdc Gemini
At almost two thousand dollars, the qdc Gemini is not a steal. But for that, you not only get a very good monitor, but also the whole high-end experience: beautiful design, perfect fit, flawless production, a nice case, superior cable, and adequate packaging.
8.6
Reader's Score
From $1715
Empire Ears Zeus
The Empire Ears Zeus wasn’t designed to be as neutral of reference-tuned as possible. Zeus has a strong, and colored personality. Because of the forward midrange, Zeus sounds powerful and stimulating; tones carry weight, while treble sounds smooth and refined.
8.6
Reader's Score
Vision Ears VE4.2
Right away this is the kind of signature that bassheads with 'taste' will enjoy. Whilst not a dynamic driver level of power the sub-woofer tuning of the VE4.2 is immensely impressive without being stodgy or lacking in extension.
8.6
Reader's Score
64 Audio A6
Who should get this? Well, people who enjoy rock, the mosh pit, and being right in the heart of the music should give this a whirl. It does an excellent job of conveying that intimate front-row rock concert experience.
8.6
Reader's Score
Unique Melody Miracle V2
If you are considering it or the Merlin I would say think hard about how you like your music because I would not say one is better than the other, they sound very different. If soundstage and bass quantity with a warmer and more relaxed sound is your bag then get the Merlin but if you want something tighter, cleaner, more neutral, and with top-end sparkle then grab the Miracle.
8.5
Reader's Score
Craft Ears Craft 4
The Craft 4 is a beautifully crafted custom monitor with a loosely V-Shaped sound signature. It offers a refined and sibilant free vocal delivery, articulate percussion, and a decent level of control on the low-end. This is tuned to enjoy without rapid fatigue though a small cable upgrade will introduce a much better level of dynamic range over the stock version.
8.5
Reader's Score
From €550
Lear LCM-BD4.2
If you are a bass-head you can get a huge amount of slam yet at the same time monitoring fans will enjoy the ability to dial that bass right down to an almost flat neutral level. The pricing for me is the sweet spot and if they can make a few adjustments in the build QC and change the cleaning pick then I would say it outpaces a few competing CIEMs quite easily.
8.5
Reader's Score
HK$7,998.00
Campfire Audio Equinox
The Equinox is like the richer 'juicier' cousin of the Atlas. Going from a 'V' to a 'W', the Equinox trades in a lot of that "contrast excitement' of the universal monitor for something a little more balanced with much more midrange and vocal presence.
8.5
Reader's Score
Vision Ears VE5
The Vision Ears VE5 is totally unique and for now one of a kind. It is not for everyone though and if you have to have one CIEM only and you are not bothered with vocal performance then this is not the CIEM for you.
8.5
Reader's Score
€1413.15

 

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