Budget IEMs for longer day to day use


I’ve been looking to get a pair of budget IEMs that would still be decent enough when it comes to sound but that I could comfortably wear for like 8 hours a day, however, considering the nature of IEMs, I’ve always been a bit hesitant to how they would perform in the comfortability aspect.
Could anyone who has had to use IEMs for longer periods of time offer their opinions on this or even suggest some IEMs?
I’d like to not spend more than 50USD and have been looking at something like the KZ ZSN Pro X or the CCA CRA so maybe someone has experience with those exact models as well?
Also, if there are any earbud suggestions, feel free, its just that there is much less info about earbuds than there are about IEMs or headphones, so I wasn’t even sure where to start with that.

Thanks for the replies!

What you’ll search will depend on what music genre you listen, and many other things. Here is some general advice:

  • the iem shape is of course very important; but comfort of it is really dependant on your own body and ears.
  • don’t hesitate to buy other tips : these little silicon (or foam) things can be expensive, but they can make a world of difference regarding sound and physical comfort
  • the cable can be change to get something lighter/more comfortable; the hook of it can have an impact on comfort, though it is quite rare; it’s the last thing you’ll want to change
  • the sound can be important: many people find too much treble tiring; it is safer to choose a darker set then; you may lose some details, but you’ll win in the long run
  • I find too much bass distracting and tiring, too. So be careful about the sound signature here too

In a global approach, I would advise you to take a HBB set: he tends to have a preference on a bit dark sets, which are great for long session listeings. I would have told you abour the Mele if it was still in sale, but I think there are newer and cheaper sets that do as well as it did at the time.

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For comfortable form factor and under $50, I think I have 3 suggestions: if you have a preference to bass/low-end I’d say the TRN TA1 Max is as good as you can get for something that should be comfortable if you have zero IEM experience. The other option for this I’d suggest is the QKZ x HBB.

If you would like something with more energy in the upper range, the Kiwi Ears Cadenza is tiny and slips right in my ear. IEMs mostly have a size and shape on me that I can’t lay down on them without them uncomfortably digging into my ear. The TA1 Max actually doesn’t. So that’s why I bring it up first for comfort

I do enjoy a bit more bass most of the time, and both the QKZ x HBB and TRN look pretty intriguing, although the QKZs cost only half as much. While it is still important that the sound quality is “good”, the main concern would be comfort for long day to day use.
Maybe any earphone recommendations? I’m basically looking for anything that is not a headphone :smiley:

For comfort first, I’d pick the TRN. My default earbud recommendation (even just to check fit and see if it’s comfortable) is the FAAEAL Iris 2.0. $10 without mic, $11 with mic. That’s my auto recommendation there.

I personally have CCA CRA, I liked them at first but I found them bright and fatiguing I feel like subbass is slighly hollow feel cause of it, comfort is nice though.

After having sets like QKZ HBB and Tea2, I realised that the notes weight of CRA is thin and bright and is not my liking, QKZ HBB is warm and has fulfilling bass experience + forward vocals. It is comfortable as well, similar fit with my CRA. If you like bright and thin notes w/ nice subbass CRA is the way to go, but if you want something of warm, easy listening, great bass and has nice note weight (thicker) QKZ HBB would be nice. Cable suck though, I had to replace mine because the cable to my left ear would not securely lock cause its a bit loose on my ear’s loop.

I use my QKZ HBB during commute to work and isolation is nice. I rotate it with my Serratus earbud on my work desk as I do my work. Does not fatigue my ear due to the warm signature and fit so I can listen for 9+ hours.

I recommend you Kz zsx. Less money Cca cra.

Another great fitting set is the moondrop ssr/ssp. These things are so tiny your won’t feel anything wearing them. You even have the choice about sound Signature.

I keep reading the moon drop quarks are supposed to be awesome for the price.

Seems like I’ll try to look more into either the QKZs or the TRNs. The moondrop SSR seem to have very weak low-end, which I would like to have but the SSP could be worth checking as that looks like the bassier version of the SSR.
I also was interested in the 7Hz Salnotes Zero but as far as I could tell they do sound amazing for their price but comfortability is unfortunately one of the drawbacks (at least for long term use)

Those do look very compact, thanks for the suggestion!

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They’re a bullet style IEM so form factor will be better, but they’re gonna lack hard in bass. The regular ones are not going to satisfy for that, at all and the DSP version only works if you plug into Type-C, so they are useless for me on my iPhone

Although I like the design of the QKZs better and they are half the price of the TRNs, the TRNs seem like the better choice. From what I could find more, they are still well rated when it comes to the sound aspects but are also very often praised on how comfortable they are.
The Moondrop SSP looked quite interesting but they are a bit of a pain to buy in my region of the world and come to be more expensive than the TRNs.
Also checked out thr Moondrop Chu, those seemed to be quite well regarded but they are appereantly mostly neutral sounding and I would prefer a bit more of a low end sound and not sure how comfortable they would be compared to the other models.
But so far, the TRNs might be my choice, a bit of a shame I kinda like all of the other IEM designs better

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Finally got my TRNs today. At first they did feel a little weird but after using them for a couple of hours I can definitely agree that they are very comfortable and basically disappear on my head.
I do kind wish they would be a little bit more punchy on the low end. I enjoy the “roomines” of over-ear bass more, but I have only really used over-ear headphones and I guess that is just the expected difference between those and IEMs. However, the clarity and wider soundstage is definitely noticeable. Sounds feel very distinct and easy to pinpoint, especially at the high end, I do really enjoy how that sounds. Overall, very pleased with the comfort and sound, so that is a definite recommendation if anyone was checking these out. (They do also come with a bunch of extra tips, both silicone and foam)

I might unfortunately have to try and replace these, since I ordered the version with the mic but received ones without it. The box even has two check boxes, “Mic” or “No Mic” and the “Mic” one was checked by someone :smiley:. Hopefully can solve this with Linsoul support.

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I’m sorry they messed up on the cable. I’m glad the set itself actually worked out well for what you were looking for otherwise. Hopefully, they will sort you out so that they will work out for you!