Let’s face it, audio engineers don’t always have the luxury of having their studio reference headphones available when they’re out and about. And if you’re on a budget, getting the finest IEM really isn’t an option. So I decided to make a short list of the best in-ear headphones for mixing under $150. If you make one of these earphones your everyday travel and commute headphone, you’ll have the advantage of knowing the sound signature and you’ll also likely have it with you in those desperate moments when you need to mix on-the-fly. Let’s take a look at these affordable in-ear headphones.
Best In-Ear Headphones For Mixing Under $150
Audio Technica ATH-E40 ($99)
The Audio Technica ATH-E40 IEM is well known for its crystal clear sound. In fact it’s nearly an industry standard for reference quality listening and monitoring. The E-40 is a 12 Ohm earphone with a frequency range of 20Hz to 20,000Hz and features a detachable A2DC cable. This professional grade IEM pushes amazing sound from bottom to top with very controlled bass. It retails for around $99 so you can’t go wrong with this very nice in-ear headphone for mixing on the go. You can get the best price for the Audio Technica ATH-E40 at Audio46 (The Headphone Superstore) or on Amazon
SHURE SE215 ($99)
Nearly everybody in the music business is familiar with the Shure SE215 IEM. It’s a classic in-ear headphone and even a standard for some audiophiles. With a resistance of only 17 Ohms and a frequency range from 22Hz to 17.5kHz, the SE215 in-ear monitor is trusted on stage with professional musicians worldwide. It’s a durable in-ear headphone and can be used with silicone or foam ear tips for maximum isolation. Any engineer on the go would be able to competently mix in any situation with the SE215 IEM. And the best part is currently going for $89 until June 30, 2017. You can pick up a pair of the Shure SE215 in clear or black for the best price at Audio46 (The Headphone Superstore) or on Amazon
Dunu Titan 3 ($139)
Manufacturer Dunu Topsound is still relatively new to the headphone scene but they’ve already managed to find audiophile recognition for their great sounding in-ear headphones. The Dunu Titan 3 is an earphone that packs incredible sound mixed with full bass. It’s not overpowering though. And the Dunu Titan 3 features amazing fidelity with a frequency range of 10Hz to 40,000Hz at 16 Ohms. The balanced match of clarity and well rounded low-end makes the Dunu Titan 3 an excellent choice for a mix-ready earphone.
Westone UM1 In-Ear Musician’s Monitor ($99)
Westone’s latest and greatest in the Ultimate Monitoring Series is the UM1 In-Ear Musician’s Monitor. For less than $100 you get the quality of Westone’s UM line in a portable earphone combined with a small carry case and a range of ear tips for the perfect fit. The Westone UM1 has a frequency range of 20Hz t0 16kHz and an impedance of only 19 Ohms. This in-ear headphone with single armature is an excellent headphone for mixing. The UM1 features well balanced sound from bottom to top and is especially good in the mid-range bringing out vocals and guitars in the mix.
Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear ($99)
Some audiophiles may give me a hard time about choosing an in-ear headphone with inline controls to use for mixing but the truth is the Sennheiser HD1 is one of the best sounding earphones on the market in its price range. This ergonomically designed in-ear headphone features a frequency range of 15Hz to 22,000Hz and the sound it can kick out is majorly hi-fi. It’s crisp, clear and has a really well controlled bass response. The Sennheiser HD1 in-ear headphone is an excellent choice for mixing when you don’t have your studio cans. You can find the Sennheiser HD1 in-ear headphone for the best price at Audio46 (The Headphone Superstore) or on Amazon
Etymotic MC5 ($60)
Etymotic is a trusted audiology company known for their high quality products. The Etymotic MC5 In-Ear Headphone is a truly affordable and accurate sounding IEM perfect for mixing and critical listening. With their custom triple flange ear tips, the Etymotic MC5 provide excellent noise isolation. And the MC5 has a frequency range of 20Hz to 15kHz providing clear and balanced music playback exactly as it was meant to be heard. The Etymotic MC5 offers several other ear tip options besides the triple flange and retails for just around $60. You can get the Etymotic MC5 in-ear headphone for the best price at Audio46 (The Headphone Superstore) or on Amazon
Final Audio E3000 ($55)
Final Audio is a headphone company based in Japan that makes high-resolution headphones and earphones. One of their brand new in-ear headphones is the E3000. Despite the size, this earphone packs quite a punch. The E3000 features a stainless steel housing, has a resistance of 16 Ohms and has incredibly good clarity. In addition, the Final Audio E3000 in-ear headphone has a well rounded bass response. A little more bass than the ATH-E40 in fact. It’s priced at just around $55 which makes it an incredible option for a high-resolution reference and mixing earphone. And if you like the Final Audio sound signature but want a little less bass in your reference earphone the Final Audio E2000 is a good option for just around $45 USD.
The Final Audio E3000 is a brand new item that’s already gaining critical acclaim in foreign markets and should be hitting the streets in the US very soon. MajorHifi will be the first to let you know when it’s available for purchase in stores and online. You can see our current reviews on the Final Audio E2000 and E3000 to get a more detailed description of their signature sound.