Best Basshead IEMs
Hawaiibadboy keeps the fire going. I’ve since stopped focusing much on in-ears in pursuit of full-size headphones. I personally use Future Sonics Spectrum G10s and have for many months now.
The Old List
- Future Sonics Spectrum G10 – Outstanding isolation. Best of the best for isolation of all the basshead IEMs. A notch above the Aurisonics Kickers in terms of comfort and isolation for me personally. A slightly dark sound signature but nice impact and very good depth. These are my current go-to IEMs for my purposes, as I need isolation for work, ease of removal/insertion, and don’t love highs. [This is what I use as my daily driver at work]
- Future Sonics MG5HX – A better-at-everything version of the above. A bit more neutral, less encroaching on the mids. This is a custom only and is fairly costly, but it’s my favorite IEM of all time. [This is what I use as my primary headphone at home]
- Sony MDR-XB90EX – 16mm dynamic drivers. That should tell you just about all you need to know right there. Outstanding bass depth. Very good impact (becomes great with an amp and EQ). This is near the top of the charts for sub-bass quantity of the IEMs I’ve heard. They’re also very comfortable.
- Aurisonics Kicker – The new Bravo series from Aurisonics kicks arse. The Kicker is a great value and punches hard, though not quite as hard as the ASG-2.5 or Sony XB90EX when amped. If you prefer more overall clarity, the Forte is an excellent choice, and if you’re a treble fan, the Harmony extends that up another notch. Very nice isolation. Not the easiest to take in and out if you need to talk to people frequently during use.
- JVC HA-FXZ200 – Great depth, decent impact, and the most pleasing sound signature to my ears of the current list. You need different tips than stock with these. I like the NarMoo S1 and Wooduo 2 single flange tips with the narrow opening for these (the narrower, the bassier on ear tips). I also enjoy the Monster Supertips. Of all the IEMs I’ve heard, these deliver the cleanest deep sub-bass of anything I’ve listened to. It’s particularly enjoyable with electronic music (especially liquid stuff, like ZES Do It Again).
- JVC HA-FX1100 – Some of my favorite basshead IEMs, these are particularly great for classical music. Their isolation is rather minimal, but the sound signature is very pleasant. Very good depth, decent impact, and amazing for a couple of genres (classical and acoustic in particular). I want another pair of these after I sold mine, but I need isolation and they’re not cheap.
- Noble 5 – Are you in love with the sound of Balanced Armature receivers but still want excellent bass depth and good impact? These deserve a special mention here, then. They can’t hit you as hard as a big dynamic driver (like the Sony or Aurisonics), but they hit hard for a BA IEM and have incredible clarity and liquid smoothness.
- Pioneer SE-CX9 – Very good visceral bass impact. BA drivers sound good on the CX9, but you don’t feel the bass in your chest. However, if you want clear music with the most significant ear canal shaking you can obtain in an IEM, these are for you. Requires ample EQ–the Bass Exciter does nothing until you feed it enough bass and volume. You’ll know when you hit the right amount of bass EQ, because it’s like turning a switch on that says “I want my ear canals to be in an earthquake please.” These are pretty bulky and heavy, so if that’s a concern for you, you might want to skip them.
- Pioneer SE-CX8 – Compared to its sibling, the SE-CX8 uses dynamic drivers (instead of balanced armature) and has a bit more depth, a bit less clarity, and identical ridiculous impact. I actually prefer these to the SE-CX9 for the added bass depth, but I’m willing to sacrifice a little clarity of treble for it.
- Aurisonics ASG-B – Bring on the thunder. These have more sub-bass extension than anything else I’ve heard. The impact is also good. These IEMs were created for bass players, drummers, and DJs, so the bass is emphasized and other frequencies are subdued. This makes for a less musical listening experience than some might be used to, but EQ can take care most of the issue (though I still haven’t achieved great clarity with them). If you are in love with bass depth and are willing to sacrifice some clarity to get it, these are incredible.
- Aurisonics ASG-2.5 – Love the bass depth of the ASG-B but felt they lacked clarity in the upper registers? Problem solved. The flagship from Aurisonics has 2 balanced armature tweeters in addition to the same 14.2mm dynamic driver of the ASG-B. The drawback? They cost more than twice the price. However, these are the best basshead all-rounders I’ve heard to date.
- HiSoundAudio Wooduo 2 – Small, wooden, surprising. These have quite a bit of bass out of the box and respond well to EQ. The overall sound signature is not as clear as the Pioneer or Audio Technica, but they do a great job of taking your breath away when diving down into the deepest reaches of bass. Driver flex appears to be common with these–I returned my first pair because I had to keep pulling the left side out of my ear to fix it.
- JVC HA-FX3X– Great impact, inexpensive. If all you want is the bass, these are cheaper and bassier than the NarMoo S1. That said, the overall sound is less pleasing than everything else on this list (but still better than anything you’ll get with your phone). They’re fun.
- Audio Technica ATH-CKS1000 – Dual Chamber bass gimmick. But, it works. These can get down deep into the sub-bass region with ample EQ and provide a fair amount of hit as well. More overall clarity and versatility than the Wooduo 2 with a bit less feeling in the chest. They’re about at the halfway point between the Wooduo 2 and SE-CX8. Bulky, but lighter than the Pioneer.
- NarMoo S1 – Perhaps the best budget basshead IEM @$32. These remained in my rotation until the Sony XB90EX came along.
Bassy – Not Basshead
Below this line, I don’t think these are basshead IEMs. They’re various levels of warm or v-shaped, but I don’t feel my ear canals shaking with them.
- Sennheiser IE80 – Possibly the best sound stage for a bassy IEM, but more expensive and less bassy than everything above it on the list.
- Yamaha EPH-100 – Bass emphasis definitely present, but not basshead and can’t be pushed hard enough to reach basshead levels.
- RHA MA750 – Nice clean sound, good punch. Not quite to basshead levels.
- RHA T10 – Honestly, I like their cheaper earphones better despite loving the idea and design of these.
- Dunu DN-1000 – I enjoyed these at first, but they become fatiguing quickly with their treble. Also don’t reach basshead levels.
- Logitech Ultimate Ears 500 – I still use these now and then. They sound great for the price and are versatile. More bass than the 600 model.
- Xiaomi Piston 2.1/3.0 – Both give up when you EQ too heavily (before getting into real canal-rattling basshead territory). That said, I use the 3.0 as my standard phone headset/workout earphone because they sound good for the price and have decent bass.
- MEElectronics M-Duo – Sound a bit like the M6/M6 Pro but with a second driver for extra bass. Not as good a deal as the M6 Pro (but bassier). If you are looking for a basshead IEM, these aren’t them. If you’re looking for something halfway between the M6 and a basshead IEM, these are what you are looking for.
Other IEMs I’ve owned or tried extensively aren’t worth mentioning for their bass quantity. Feel free to ask if they’ve been tested in the comments, though.
Good, versatile ear tips that also work well for bass (note that in many cases, the smaller the opening, the bassier the tip–the first two on the list are the narrowest):
- Westone True-Fit Foam & Star Silicone Tips – These are what I use on my Spectrum G10s. I love ’em. I use the spacers from the Monsters below to keep them snug.
- Monster Gel/Foam Supertips – Get the assorted sizes and gel/foam mix–they have spacers too, and will fit just about anything.
- Sony Hybrids – One of the most recommended and versatile tips. I love them for earphones that isolate well with them.
- JVC Victor Spiral Dot – One of the most recommended versatile tips.
- NarMoo S1/Wooduo 2 – Their single flange tips are good for bass. You can get the NarMoo tips from their website.
- Comply Isolation or Comfort Tips – Ensure a good seal, which helps deliver solid bass. I stopped using these because they need to be replaced frequently.
- MEElectronics M11+ (extra long single flange and standard bi-flange).
- Earphones Plus assortment – I like these triple flanges more than most.
- Auvio Silicone replacement tips – None of them fit me terribly well, but many people like them.