Help with finding new IEM

I am interested in purchasing a new IEM >$1000, <$2500, but unsure what to choose anymore. I have been in this journey for too long and no longer sure what to choose especially many reviewers that I can find that purchase IEMs at this price range seem to listen to more classical/jazz/rock/instrumental. I do enjoy these genres, but don’t really listen to them that often. I have listed a few songs below that might characterize what type of music I enjoy to listen to. I have auditioned and/or owned many IEMs/headphones in the past (like at RMAF in 2018), but most high end audio just sounds like…high end audio and nothing really impressive to my ears. I didn’t try all the audio gear at the show, but I did really enjoy the Campfire Andromeda/Vega and Meze Empyrean (Meze out of price my range). I should also add that usability and comfort is important, don’t want a great sounding IEM I can wear for only 30 minutes (Sorry IER-Z1R, maybe one day).

Better - Khalid
How do you sleep? - Sam Smith
Stronger - Kanye West
Skyfall - Adele
Green Light - Lorde
Lose Yourself to Dance - Daft Punk
Grant - Distraction
Faint - Linkin Park
Time - Hans Zimmer
Blinding Lights - The Weeknd

A few IEMs I own:
Campfire Audio Solstice (Custom Andromeda)
Westone ES50 (Custom)
JH Audio Lola v1
Campfire Andromeda 2020 (About to return)

Source (I don’t plan on upgrading source anytime soon):
JDS Labs Element II
LG G7 ThinQ

Any suggestions is greatly appreciated, I feel pretty lost right now, but have the feeling for something new. Only thing I can find that might match what I want is the Empire Ears Vantage, Nemesis, or Legend X, Campfire Solaris 2020 but never heard these.

My rec would be the Final Audio A8000 for those genres and maybe a iFi iDSD bl to pair with them :+1:

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Thanks, I’ll check them out. Do you think it is really worth getting the iFi iDSD BL even though I already have the JDS Labs Element II? I imagine the quality bass boost would be really nice.

Personally yes plus the Burr Brown chip set works well with slightly brighter iems it’s what I use to drive my Andro’s :+1:

After test driving the Empire Ears Bravado’s, I can attest to the low end that their W9 “Subwoofers” (DD) produce. It’s intoxicating, which is why the Vantage and Valkyrie are on my radar. I say go for the Valkyrie’s (not too many reviews on the Vantage’s to properly assess). I do like my Solaris, but I still wish I had sprung for the Valkyrie’s instead.


  • Kanye
  • Khalid
  • Weeknd
  • Lorde

All of that sounds right up the Z1’s alley. Maybe the Solaris also.

Checked out the review and definitely interested in it, but I might want more bass quantity. But that bass quantity could be delivered with the iDSD. How well does the bass boost option work with the Andros?

I am not sure how I feel about having the Valkyrie be so V-shaped, but I also haven’t heard a really good V-shaped IEM so it might change my mind. Vantage seems to be smoother, which might work better for the music I listen to, but also unsure due to so little amount of reviews on them. What kind of music do you listen to if you mind me asking and how well does that music work with the Solaris?

Yeah I was thinking about IER-Z1R, but the comfort might be a deal breaker for me. Definitely an IEM I need to audition first before making a hard commit. I wonder how the Solaris compares to the Andromeda since that is my best comparison point like do you still get the same level of intimacy?

Bread and butter is hip hop (90’s and underground), but as of late a lot of Motown/Doo Wop and EDM. However, I’m pretty much into everything except for Country and K-Pop. Check out my play list at the bottom if you’re interested in what I’m in to. The Solaris’ are great sounding IEMs that play nicely with all genres. My primary gripes are aesthetics and fit. The only very small issue I have in terms of sound is how sensitive they are. You’re going to get some hiss with everything you plug into.

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perhaps check out the hyla sarda. It was my upgrade from the bravados, excellent bass and overall detail and clarity is great. W shaped signature and performs well for any genre, personally i listen to mostly edm and hiphop but the sardas can handle whatever i throw at them. They are still impressive to me every time i put them in although I’ve not heard many IEMs.


i just saw the rules holy fudge i entered sjw land im out

It ads a slight bass boost, nothing dramatic and it’s the only switch I use apart from the gain.I generally don’t run it with the Andro’s as I like the way they sound straight and unadulterated.

You won’t on an iFi Micro the back ground is silent I don’t even use the iem match. What are you using to drive them?


O2 and SP200 amps on low gain. It’s not overwhelming and only an issue if I’m really listening for it, but I still notice it from time to time.

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A lot of people talk about the Legend X online, is there a reason you would choose the Vantage and Valkyrie over the Legend X for your music?

Primarily price. I found some tolerable deals for the Vantage and Valkyrie’s. However, if I spot some Legend X’s for around the same price I’m definitely springing for that. There was one review that caught my eye regarding the Vantage on how well it plays with The Beatles (another of my favorites that’s constantly in my rotation).

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Before spending that kind of cash, you either gotta demo them in-person or do a ton of research on people’s impressions on them and detect patterns in those impressions. I wouldn’t read too much into one person’s impressions alone because everyone has different ears.

I haven’t done much research into Empire Ears, except they’re big into electrostats for the highs and some of their models have been inconsistent or divisive. Seems like a brand I’d have to hear first, because they’re definitely not neutral and it seems like a real love or hate situation. The way those Valkyries look though :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes:

Have you looked at the 64audio IEMs? I’ve seen plenty of good things about them, and haven’t seen many complaints about being uncomfortable or inconsistent.

The Z1Rs are definitely a different fit, however, if you can seat them right, look no further. I cant speak to the Solaris for not being able to listen for long enough and truly sit with them. BUT… I own both the Andros and the Z1Rs. After I got used to the sound, the Z1R just brought so much out of my music compared to the Andros. The meatier, warmer character for the mids is great and is a bit more filling than the Andro. The lows are in a completely different world. I really appreciated the andro lows before I heard the Z1Rs. Now it seems quite quite hollow when I go back for the majority of “MY” music. THere are still things I can listen to that listen to and love the Andros but for the majority of my listening, it comes alive with the Z1Rs. And for all of the low end, I wouldn’t expect them to be able to perform in the mids like they do without low end bleeding but they do. And the highs are present, clear, and spaitally represented in a great way. Excuse my stream of consciousness. Just took a little break at work. But man, this is a fun pair of IEMs. I’ve stopped looking. I never thought I’d see the day. If they fit, it may be what you’re looking for!

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Yeah I have tried reading up on impressions for all these IEMs even with reviewers that I read/watch frequently, but once we are at this price range, the amount of reviewers are a bit thin and their music tastes are different.

I haven’t heard Empire Ears either, but I remember quite a few people talking about them when I went to RMAF in 2018. Now, that I am doing more research, I am kind of interested in an IEM with more bass or different than what I have which is why I went to Empire Ears.

I did try 64 audio at RMAF 2018 and I honestly was kind of like meh. I think I was pretty impressed with one of their IEMs which might have been the U12t, but don’t remember. Like 64 audio sounds like high end audio, but once you go to an audio show and listen to so much audio gear, they start sounding the same with only a few standing out.

I was planning on going to RMAF this year to audition all of these IEMs, but that ain’t happening. I might have to go through the route and do extensive research, then purchase an IEM. If I really don’t like it, then exchange it for another that I was looking into. I don’t really like doing that though.