In-ear monitors are just a fancy word for “headphones”. As a musician, I’ve been wearing Shure in-ear monitors almost every time I play out. It saves my hearing from further damage.
But as time goes on, better and cheaper devices come out. In 2007, things changed as we added TRRS (Tip/Ring/Ring/Sleeve) 3.5 mm connectors from our phones. With podcasters and musicians making content, not all monitor system comes from the rack mount and mixer.
And as we make smaller and more complex electronics, we can add cool tech to our in-ear experience. For example, most ear buds nowadays comes with more than one speaker packed in the ear. 2 or 3 driver (aka speaker) systems are not uncommon.
And there is even a 5 driver in-ear monitor!
Add to these facts that a no-name company will make, and sell on Amazon ear buds that can rival the $500 or better pro models. If they break, another pair can be on your doorstep in 2 days.
As we get into this era of COVID-19, I looked at these monitors not only for musicians, but anyone thinking of using them in a podcast or webinar situation. I bought 4 different headsets that ranked well on Amazon.
- TRS vs. TRRS – This is the 3.5mm connector to the device. T=Tip, R=Ring, S=Sleeve. A phone headset with microphone is a TRRS, whereas a stereo headphone is TRS.
- Hz & kHz – This is the frequencies where sound is produced. 10,000 Hz is also 10 kHz.
- ohm – This is Impedance via the amount of power that is supplied to the headphones. Most headphones are passive in power (meaning you need no extra battery to run them).
- dB – Decibels. This is how loud the ear buds can get. ASHA states that a safe level to avoid hearing loss is under 70 dB. In a live environment, I try to stay under 85 dB.
BASN BSinger BC100
This is a Dual driver headphone with a design that fits in the inner-canal of the ear. The buds are detachable to change cables between TRS and TRRS using MMCX cables.
The ear buds weigh around .7 ounces per ear.
As a 2-driver headphone, I am impressed how they work. In sound tests, I hear response around 20 Hz to 14 kHz. It fits in the ear easy, and doesn’t clip in my ear.
AS Triple Driver Earphones 6D Sound
This in-ear headset is TRRS only. I added these because of the ratings, and the unique design. It touts to be “6D’, whatever that means.
One of the bass drivers actually hits the ear wall, most likely using the ear as an extended bass.
The biggest issue with this pair was the left and right ears were flipped. They really didn’t fit my ear too well, and leaked a lot of noise into my ear.
In testing, I found out the frequency range was around 20 Hz to 15 kHz. There are no specs on the page.
KZ ZSR Triple Driver Headphones
There are a lot of people that love these headphones, and I am one of them. When I put the headphones in, they simply sealed up, and worked perfect.
The triple driver with 10mm Bass will give you 10 Hz up to 40 kHz (although I can only attest to anything 19kHz or lower). 22 ohm, with 107dB sound.
The headset is detachable, and a Bluetooth with microphone can be added as TRRS.
During the tests, I could hear above 15 kHz, and 10Hz low end. All other tests resulted well, and the drivers are balanced in the ears.
CCA C10 Five Driver Headphones
Yes, five drivers are in this set of headphones, under $40. The CCA C10 also has a crossover to balance the speakers together. Two drivers at the ear hole, 2 behind that, and the 10mm bass driver.
The company claims it has a range of 7Hz to 40kHz. Sensitivity is 108dB, with a 32 ohm resistance.
What was interesting is that I could hear the frequencies 7Hz and higher, and even 19kHz and lower. The bass driver shakes really well, and the stereo drivers are even, and accurate.
When I used them in a live environment, I was very happy with the results. The band sounded crisp, and the ears were able to reduce bleed-through, saving my ears from further damage.
My favorite is the KZ ZSR headphones. They fit in my ear easily, and sealed up nicely. They are crisp, and enjoyable for music, speech, and more.
I also really like the CCA C10 ear bud. The 5 drivers allowed me to hear the 15-19 kHz area better than any of the others. Sound engineers that use headphones to find errant noises might really like these, along with audiophiles that can hear the spectrum better.
Which Headphones do you like?
Let me know, and I’ll check them out! I’m always interested in getting better sound for my ears, while reducing the chance for further damage.