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Article: Inexpensive IEM Roundup

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2 hours ago, bobfa said:

I am dancing in the streets, singing to the stars!  Real IEMs that do not break anyones bank.  I have a set of Timeless 7z that I like but do not use much because they do not fit my ears as well as I would like.  


I fall back to the AirPods Pro 2 because they are so convenient.    


Now where did I leave my Mojo!


Thanks @JoshM




The Timeless 7Hz sounds good and are stylish, but I agree that the nozzle diameter and depth can make them uncomfortable.

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17 hours ago, davide256 said:

Hi Josh, ordered the Kiwi cadenza's, thanks for your review. Hard part I find for IEM's is fit -do they stay put and comfort -they can hurt if the nozzle/tip

is in a bad spot for your ear. But that passive isolation is so much better than noise canceling tech  "digititus" at moderate to loud background noise levels.

The Cadenza was comfortable for me, even with the $10 Tin tips. The thing that could make that not the case for you is that the Tin tips are dense and don’t squish down much. This is good for cushioning sharp nozzles, but can make your ears feel too full depending on your canal size and the diameter of the nozzle. In that case, the Comply or Spinfit tips are the way to go. 

10 hours ago, Kalpesh said:

would you have a suggestion for noise cancellation bluetooth headphones to be used with an iPhone ?

Main usage would be making the best of time during several hours treatment in an hospital bed once a week : podcasts, music...

Homework (pure reading) led me to Sennheiser Momentum 3 (over the 4 for musical SQ) with Shure AONIC 50 or Sony as contenders...



I don’t use ANC headphones, but others here might have recommendations. Based on people I trust, the Drop Panda ANC headphones are highly regarded. It might be worth trying some IEMs with foam tips first, though, because they usually block out almost all outside noise if the tips are properly fitted and can be had much cheaper than a good ANC headphone. 


10 hours ago, AnotherSpin said:

Are there any inexpensive good IEMs that fit the recent iPhones without adapters or additional DACs?


The USB-C based iPhones? I’ve seen some IEMs with a small DAC/amp built into the cable. But I think buying the cheap Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle is a better option, since it allows you to use any IEMs you want. It’s not the most powerful DAC/amp, but it’s good enough for most use cases, and it’s small enough that you can just leave it attached to the IEM cable. That’s what I did for my wife, who wanted things as simple as possible. 

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On 2/12/2023 at 9:14 AM, Kalpesh said:

THANK you, unfortunately, the Drop does not seem any longer available.


 I'm puzzled by your answer to @AnotherSpin. A cheap alternative to a Sennheiser Momentum 3 or like could be the Kiwi or even my good ol' AKG 701 once the cable changed. No noise cancellation, and wire, but why not. But why a cable with a DAC in a dongle? Isn't it possible to use the AKG or the IEM you present with a mere lightning to jack adaptor ?? such as https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MMX62AM/A/lightning-to-35-mm-headphone-jack-adapter



Sorry for the confusion. The Apple DAC/amp dongle I was referring to in my reply to @AnotherSpin is the adapter you linked (the Lightning version or the USB-C version). Even though Apple calls it an "adapter," it's really a small DAC/amp dongle.

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  • 2 weeks later...
9 hours ago, davide256 said:

Hi Josh,

  got the Kiwi Cadenza's, they are pretty nice. Out of the box kind of forward for treble but a few hours break in was all that was needed.

Kind of falls into a Meze 99 like sound with a little less density and smoothness. but a bit more treble extension. Heck of a bargain at $35


Wondering if you have an aftermarket IEM cable that you recommend to improve on the Cadenza  stock cable ?

Yes, they have just a touch of glare in the lower treble. Beyond let them break in, the iFi IEMatch is a good tool to have. Even on IEMs that don’t need it for hiss purposes, I find that the IEMatch seems to tame treble just a bit subjectively. 

Most decent replacement cables will come close to the cost of the Cadenza itself. But I’ve had good luck with Tripowin cables for a budget option. The cheapest stock 2-pin model (“Zonie”) is $20, and the version with the termination adapters (“Amber”) is $30. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/23/2023 at 1:15 AM, davide256 said:

Thanks! Glad you responded, had ordered a cable already only to realize from the Amber options it had wrong ends (CMX?) vs 2 pin 0.78.  iSine  cables also work,

using that at the moment as a sonic improvement over the stock cable and looking forward to the Amber cable and Spin Fit tips when they arrive.




I hadn't received them at the time of my last reply, but I'm impressed by the Moondrop Spring silicone tips, which are $13 for three pairs. I actually may prefer them to the Spinfit, though it's a close call. The Spring tips are slightly tackier than the Spinfit tips. So the Springs end up falling between the smooth Spinfit and the very tacky SednaEarfit XELASTEC in texture. (I like the SednaEarfit XELASTEC for shallow-fitting IEMs, because the tackiness does a good job of creating a stable fit and good seal.)

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