Suggestions for cheap IEMs?


Well-known Member
Anyone have any notable things to say about any cheap in-ears (like KZ, for example)? Thanks!


Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Had to look those up.

The specs and prices don't match up. That is, they're WAY cheap for what they claim to do, and that's a red flag for me.

Also, if you're serious about in-ears, you should look into molds. But you're not going to get them for the KZ prices.

Remember: you invariably acquire that for which you expend.


Active Member
From all the musicians I’ve known to use KZ; they love them. From worship leaders/musicians, to professional session drummers. They love them.

For me, I have small ears (outer part at least) so they don’t work for me. But anything from Shure (215-846) fit my ears perfectly.

I’ve had the 215s for years, never failed me. Never had to replace a cable. And they sound great. $99.

unless they are the upper level KZ’s, I would recommend starting at at least $100 for IEMs.

I’ve had some Westone AMPro30(?) for about 5 years. But I had to get them replaced within the first year. Easy replacement through warranties.

Westone has lower level prices, I’d recommend looking into those.

As for tips, I use the Westone STAR tips (green). Fit like a glove.

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
I would recommend starting at at least $100 for IEMs.
My hearing is worth more than $100. My ears are a lifetime ownership.
I know it's unpopular, but when it comes to health you can't cheapskate. Buy a pair of isolation headphones if budget is an issue. Buy custom moulds if you really have to have IEMs.

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
Since comments that don't agree with you constitute "attacks", I'll apologize up front for beating the living heck out of you in the following:

.....but only worth $250??
but I'm sure we'll find out with the last word. ;)
Why aren't you posting angry text at Bermuda then? I guess I'm a softer target.
Yes my ears are worth more than $100. I use the GKN Ultraphones at home and custom moulded -25db earplugs and also often the GKN's when I play live. But in any case, you try so hard to be critical. It's the best protection that counts. It just so happens the $250 GKN's protect as well as $900 IEMs. But you'd never admit that.
Regarding the amount of loud live shows and gun ranges you've experienced without hearing damage... well it's the same old story about how your grandmother smoked 60 a day for 80 years and died in a car crash. Hearing damage happens, and you don't know it until it's too late.
Not sure why you are getting so angry and personal abut this. Take a chill pill.


Active Member
Believe it or not, custom molds fall into the -25 to -30 dB reduction range which is right in line with proper fitting, non-custom IEM's (at -25).
Thank you for bringing this up! I forgot that, while I was doing the research for CIEMs, I took notice of the db reduction/sound isolation difference. The CIEMs I was looking at (+ a couple of the other brands/offerings) were rated at around -20 db to -25db, with the Shure UIEMs being rated between -29 db and -37db.
Regardless, I think we all can agree that any time you are pumping sound into your ears, whether it be through custom or non-custom IEM's, or isolation phones w/ speakers, all of the protection afforded by them goes right out the window if the volume knob goes up too high.
This too. This entire debate is moot if you turn it up too high. But, theoretically: the more noise reduction, the less you have to push them.
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Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Ok then, if it makes you happy, @bermuda , you're wrong! :mad: There. That's as "angry" as I'm going to get.

All I can tell you and everyone else is, Shure's and KZ and the other companies' 'budget' in-ears are not meant to compete with custom molds. They simply provide a product in a different price range... and with different capabilities. Just like drum and cymbal companies do.

You get what you pay for.

Does everyone going in-ear need molds? That depends on how much isolation is needed for an optimum mix, and that should be governed by the stage volume. So with a rock or fusion band in a concert setting, molds are going to be preferable for keeping extraneous sound (house ambience for example) out of your mix. In a club where a little extra help is needed without cranking floor wedges, the less-expensive in-ears may be suitable.

It's not a question of fidelity (which is subjective) or hearing protection (although molds are ideal for reducing overall volume.) It's a question of believing that less-expensive over-the-counter in-ears are somehow equivalent to custom molds, and the glee with which people justify spending less and think they're getting more. It's about the right tools for the job. If you were going on tour, you wouldn't buy padded bags for your drums, you'd buy flight cases.

It's simple - if you need the capability of molds, you need to get molds. Period. There's no cheaping-out. You need to make a commitment, and that's going to cost more.

Also, listen to Chris. He's played much bigger stages than anyone here.
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Silver Member
I have Shure SE 425s. I can get custom molds for them. I don't have custom molds for them. Are they bad?


Senior Member
I agree with Bermuda on all points.

I bought my KZ monitors for one gig and thus didn't want to invest a ton of money in them. They performed well and exceeded my expectations but I understood that I would need pro grade IEMs if I was to continue down that road. The pandemic came along a couple of months later and dried up all of my gigs so that new chapter has yet to be written.


Active 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.
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.