Suggestions for cheap IEMs?

Mr Farkle

Regular Poster
I use the KZ with 3M iso headphones on top for practice and recording. I don’t own molded IEM’s but I can say this about the KZ’s, when wearing the KZ’s alone to record they seem to isolate well…until I put the headphones on top. It’s an entirely different experience with both. With the headphones on top I can hear the kit almost exclusively through the board at a relatively low volume. Not so at all without the phones. I imagine that means a lot of room volume is coming through the KZ’s.

I also noticed that the KZ’s are marketed as musicians earbuds based on their sound quality, not on their noise isolation.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I'm not arguing that they are equivalent, just that they are effective (again if they fit properly <that is the key). Yes, custom molded IEM's are better than off the shelf, but only by a small-ish margin. Certainly not enough to say that one "needs" custom molds when other options are available.


If your stage volume is such that you need a -30 dB attenuation rather than a -25, then you're on an extremely loud stage, but you are absolutely correct in that if you need it, you need it.


No thanks. When it comes to my hearing, I think I'll listen to my audiologist. He didn't earn his degree on any stages, and he's managed to keep my hearing intact so far.

Again, I'm not arguing that custom molds aren't any more effective or even a waste of money, and everything I'm saying isn't based on my opinion, nor is it to be argumentative or to prove I'm right. It's based on advice from an actual audiologist over my lifetime. The minute he found out I was taking up the drums, he gave me a set of muffs that I still use to this day, and the earplugs that fit me the best and they've obviously been effective.
What it boils down to is that custom molds are simply proper (are you seeing a theme here yet?) fitting earplugs (or IEM's in this case).


So, my answer to the OP's title is: "any that fit properly, and if you can't find them, have them made".
You are too arguing.
 

calan

Silver Member
I agree with you here. This is where I think there is a disconnect. I, nor anyone else, has ever stated the UIEMs are equivalent to CIEMs. Not sure why this continues to be brought up as a counterargument as it was never introduced as primary argument.
Going further down that rabbit hole, tips are tips, and the drivers and enclosure (ie the bud or the body) are not necessarily integrated. Many "off the shelf" models allow for custom molds after purchase.

Also, ear canal shape/width/depth is highly variable in this discussion, and is super hard to quantify.

It's also possible that KZ (Shenzhen Yuanze Electronics Co) offers models that are just as good as any of the industry leaders. We don't know why they're priced so low. Cheaper components? Unethical labor practices? Stolen designs or reverse engineering? No/poor customer support? No advertising or marketing budget? Government subsidized to reduce end cost as part of a global economic battle? Some combination of any and all of these? It could even be an OEM manufacturer just making their own market entry.

I completely understand the reticence to use am untrusted source with something that close to your ears (part of the reason I went with Shure for my own), but dismissing it out of hand doesn't seem prudent.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Yes, custom molded IEM's are better than off the shelf, but only by a small-ish margin. Certainly not enough to say that one "needs" custom molds when other options are available.

I know there are other options, and they're not equivalent. And I know it depends on the need. But if someone needs what custom molds do, a budget option is not going to serve them very well. Then when they understand that they should have gone with molds in the first place, they're already $200 in the hole for the first ones on top of the $800+ for the real thing.

I cannot say this enough: you get what you pay for.

If your stage volume is such that you need a -30 dB attenuation rather than a -25, then you're on an extremely loud stage, but you are absolutely correct in that if you need it, you need it.

I'm on a fairly quite stage - the only thing that makes a physical sound is my kit, and I play at a moderate volume. But in order to control my mix, especially with tracks involved, I need as much isolation as possible. If budget in-ears were acceptable, everyone on that stage would be using them. Indeed, every player uses molds. The stage manager also has molds, the monitor engineer has molds, the wardrobe person backstage has molds, the tour manager has molds. The LD and FOH engineer have molds (of course they're in the house where the volume is highest.)

Why? Because it's crucial at our touring level to hear - and to not hear - what's going on, and the only way to achieve that is with as much isolation as is available.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
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organworthyplayer337

Regular Poster
Anyway, no need to hijack an innocent thread.

Back on track:

OP, there is nothing wrong with looking into affordable universal fit IEMs. Protecting your hearing is the most important aspect. The KZ's, as you have read from basically everyone on this thread, are a really good choice, especially as your first pair.

Seems like there are a lot of fans of them (even on here) so I think you may have your answer :)
 

Mr Farkle

Regular Poster
Not to get too far off topic but I recently ran across an interesting podcast on hearing health for musicians. The guest is a music hearing researcher. In the final analysis he says they really don’t know a lot about how to protect musician’s hearing but you should do some mitigation. Obvious, I know, but it’s still a good nerdy conversation.

https://bulletproofmusician.com/kri...ecome-better-musicians-too/?highlight=Hearing
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
In the final analysis he says they really don’t know a lot about how to protect musician’s hearing but you should do some mitigation.

I'm not sure if there are any musican-specific audiologists. A normal audiologist's job is to help with hearing speech, which is a much narrower frequency range than music.
 

Mr Farkle

Regular Poster
I'm not sure if there are any musican-specific audiologists. A normal audiologist's job is to help with hearing speech, which is a much narrower frequency range than music.
Funny, that’s exactly the point that he keeps making throughout the podcast. The “hearing protection” industry hasn’t really done anything to address the frequency range of music. Also I misstated, he’s a researcher or professor not an audiologist.
 
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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I leaned that when I went to an audiologist several years ago. He said my hearing was okay and when I said I couldn’t hear a lot of high end, he said he was only concerned with speech, not music. 🙁
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
I'm using 3M peltor ear buds with a decibel limiting of 82 db. While they are great for reducing volume and blocking out external sound, they lack in sound quality. I checked with Sweet Water if they knew of anything similar with quality sound and they didn't know of anything with db limits like I have now. I'm afraid if I get IEMs without a limiter I'll just crank it up defeating the whole point of in ears. I might try some KZs or Shure 215s and see if I can keep the volume down, I don't know.
 

spleeeeen

Platinum Member
This is MEE's attempt at a middle ground, modular IEMs with custom molds:


They look like they may be a bit bulky compared to dedicated custom molded devices but with the relatively low price point I'm going to give them a go. I've tried to find reviews from people who have used them (including here) but no luck so far.
 

basset52

Senior Member
I'm using 3M peltor ear buds with a decibel limiting of 82 db. While they are great for reducing volume and blocking out external sound, they lack in sound quality. I checked with Sweet Water if they knew of anything similar with quality sound and they didn't know of anything with db limits like I have now. I'm afraid if I get IEMs without a limiter I'll just crank it up defeating the whole point of in ears. I might try some KZs or Shure 215s and see if I can keep the volume down, I don't know.
I use the KZ's in conjunction with a Behringer P2. The P2 has a volume control which allows me to control the volume in my ears.
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
I use the KZ's in conjunction with a Behringer P2. The P2 has a volume control which allows me to control the volume in my ears.
Turning down the volume is not the issue, you should be able to turn the vol. down on any IEM. I'm wanting something with a vol. limiter. A limiter will not go over the decibel limit, say 82 for instance. No matter how high you set the vol. knob it will not exceed 82 decibels. Without a limiter I think I'll end up having my in-ears too loud, just like I do with a wedge monitor. That will not protect my hearing. After 50
 

Chris Whitten

Drum Expert
Some of the IEM companies have very experienced audiologists. In the UK they come to you to fit the moulds. It's an extremely delicate and potentially dangerous operation pumping the foam into your ear canal to make the model they use to create the custom fit mould.
So they are highly qualified and understand hearing damage.
There are private audiologists that specialise in music. I visited one in Harley St London while I was in the middle of a 1.5 year world tour. He said the loud two hour show was punishing my ears, but also flying every day, with the pressure change, was not allowing my ears to recover.
Ten years later I had some moulded earplugs fitted by an audiologist in Australia who said she wouldn't recommend anything less than -25db protection. They know how loud drums are, on their own, without mentors and guitar amps etc.
A little bit of hearing loss is manageable, although not great. You DO NOT want tinnitus. It can happen in a split second, without warning.
Protect your ears with affordable isolation headphones. From what I've seen, custom moulded IEMs can cost around $650. That is a cheap price to pay for peace of mind.
 

Chris Whitten

Drum Expert
Turning down the volume is not the issue, you should be able to turn the vol. down on any IEM. I'm wanting something with a vol. limiter. A limiter will not go over the decibel limit, say 82 for instance. No matter how high you set the vol. knob it will not exceed 82 decibels. Without a limiter I think I'll end up having my in-ears too loud, just like I do with a wedge monitor. That will not protect my hearing. After 50
Yes, you also need a limiter to protect against unexpected feedback. If you've ever been on a stage when feedback suddenly blasts out. Your ear can shut down and take a few minutes to recover. Imagine that next to your eardrum!
 

drumnut87

Silver Member
ive got the KSZ 6 driver IEMs from amazon, theyre decent for what they are, granted theyre no custom-fit IEMs, but for what they are theyre ok, ive had no problems with them :)

HOWEVER, if youre serious about IEMs, custom-moulded are the way to go, i would reccomend at least 3 drivers in them as well.

and as chris has said above, a limiter will definitely help against unexpected feedback and unexpected loudness such as a guest singer whose voice is 10x louder than your normal singer (been there, done that, had to REALLY turn my IEM receiver pack down while trying to play!!!)
 

BGDurham

Regular Poster
Where does a limiter fit in? I assume that is a feature of the belt pack gizmo (some, not all) and not in the earbuds themselves--is that right?
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
Where does a limiter fit in? I assume that is a feature of the belt pack gizmo (some, not all) and not in the earbuds themselves--is that right?
The only ones I have found with limiters are safety equipment companies like the 3M Peltor earbuds that I use. The limiter is built in. They're fine for listening the music while I'm at work welding, but not so good on stage. They can't handle the kick or bass guitar very well with out distortion. I usually use the overhead mics to monitor my kit, if I try to turn up the kick mic or bass guitar all I get is distortion.
 
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