Looking For Audiophile-Friendly Earphones That Last Long and Do Not Cost Too Much

I am looking for not too expensive earphones that are audiophile-friendly and last much longer than Sony’s products. I’m trying to avoid planned obsolescence to be more environmentally sustainable. But I’m not wanting to waste too much money yet still have that audiophile quality listening experience. I’m thinking earphones that are less than $200 in U.S. currency.

Open-back? Closed-back? Do you have an amp? What kind of music do you like? Do you like bass? Treble? Mid-range?

Hard to give you a recommendation without answers to these questions.

I meant earphones. Not headphones. I’ve only found headphones that are open-back and closed-back so far. Not earphones, though. Also, I have no amp. Music I like are from different genres. Sometimes music I listen to has bass, treble, and a mid-range sound.

Basically, the Drop + JVC HA-FDX1. Built like a tank. Just watch the (MMCX) connector…


So, IEMs. A few ideas, all under $200:

Tripowin Olina
Moondrop Starfield or Aria
Timeless 7Hz

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Only because durability is a main requirement:

Starfield: Notorious for the paint finish chipping off
Aria: Notorious for paint issues plus common wiring failure
Timeless 7Hz: Seen a fair few with the shells popped open

Olina: Legitimately built like a tank, but there is a notable number of users who have condensation problems that block sound through the filter until dried out. Not an issue of longevity though.

It’s a shame that so many sets do have some manner of caveat for “lasts long”.


For durability, should probably go with a good IEM with a resin-based shell. Metal are prone to the condensation issue

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Yanyin Aladdin on sale
Penon Fan
QoA Vesper
Fearless Audio Provence
ISN H40 or H30
NF Audio NM2+
Blon03 (potential shallow fit issue)
SeeAudio Yume II
SeekReal Airship

The thing is these cover such a broad spectrum of tunings. Once durability is taken care of, what do you listen to, what moves you most from your music?


IKKO Obsidian OH10 have not heard of a case of driver failure complaints/ paint chipping cable is absolutely shit but hey cables are cheap.

Agreed besides the paint chipping - very common for OH10 to have issues with its surface finish sort of peeling.

Actually my point was I have not heard of any issues with the OH10 at all?

I have abused mine and bought second hand no issues.

Maybe it was only certain batches, but I can remember multiple times on the used market there were issues with the finish, including a set I purchased once. Sellers having to say “I haven’t mistreated them, doesn’t affect the sound” etc.

Hey if you’re interested in trying a bunch of them I’m planning to sell some sets soon:

Starfields, Olina, KAI, Melee, Chu, Zero all for $150 before shipping. Like new condition, no issues, and I haven’t touched them in months :slightly_smiling_face:

Most “cheaper” IEMs will last around the same in my experience. If nothing happens in the first few months typically it means QC on the set is good. Also, I highly suggest you to grab a bunch of cheaper sets to feel for what kind of tuning/sound you like first before dropping $200 on a single IEM you may not like.


So were you referring to IEMs or to flathead earbuds? You have plenty of options for either and since it seems others have focused on IEMs I’ll post some of the earbud highlights in the sub $200 range.

Shozy BK
Penon Audio BS1 Official
Yincrow RW-2000
Fiio FF3
…these are probably my favorites for off the shelf, branded buds that you can grab for under $200. Then you so have options from DIY builders. If you’re interested in those let me know and I can point you to a few.