7 Best In-Ear Monitors For Live Performers & Gigs

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  • Why bother with floor monitors, feedback, and noisy venues?
  • In-ear monitors are a pro solution for live performance monitoring, offering noise isolation, portability, and comfort.
  • Here are the best in ear monitors on the market for live performance and studio use!

Live performance monitoring has recently moved from floor monitors and side fills to the much more effective, safer, and reliable option of in-ear monitors.

With in-ear monitors, you can decide exactly what you hear in the mix for a more customized monitoring experience that blocks all that unwanted noise that is typical of live performances.

In this article, we’re going to look at seven of the best in-ear monitors for live performers. 

What Are The 7 Best In-Ear Monitors For Live Performers? 

Our pick for best in-ear monitors for live performers is the Sennheiser IE 400 Pro Monitor Earphones, as this legendary German company offers an ideal cost-benefit ratio on this model.

For those that need the best and don’t mind splurging, the Westone W60 Gen 2 Signature Series Earphones are our Premium Choice.

Finally, for those that want a solution that is great for live performance but can also hold its own in the studio, try the Audio-Technica ATH-E70 Monitor Earphones.

Overall, it’s stiff competition, but here are our candidates for the 7 best in-ear monitors for live performers. 

  1. Sennheiser IE 400 Pro Monitor Earphones (Our Pick)
  2. Shure SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones
  3. Etymotic Research ER4XR Extended Response Earphones 
  4. Westone W60 Gen 2 Signature Series Earphones (Premium Choice)
  5. Mackie MP-320 Dynamic Triple-driver Professional In-Ear Monitors
  6. Audio-Technica ATH-E70 Monitor Earphones (Best for Studio Use)
  7. Shure SE535 

1. Sennheiser IE 400 Pro Monitor Earphones

The Sennheiser IE 400 Pro monitor earphones come with the company’s cutting-edge TrueResponse technology and a single dynamic SYS 7 driver.

The IE 400 Pro delivers a natural, phase-linear sound without the distortion typically found in multi-way drivers when pushed to louder volumes.

This set of in-ear monitors also offer optimal comfort with an ergonomic earmold design, making them one of the best models on the market today and our top pick for this list.

OUR PICK
Sennheiser IE 400 Pro Monitor Earphones
$349.95

Get pro sound in your ears with the Sennheiser IE 400 Pro monitor earphones.

Why We Love It:
  • Features Sennheiser’s TrueResponse technology
  • Distortion-free
  • Easy to use
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10/23/2021 03:15 am GMT

Features

  • Detailed, balanced in-ear monitor sound 
  • Compact, extremely lightweight earmold in a superior ergonomic yet rugged design
  • Detachable, stage-proof cable with break-proof connection and reinforced ear hook
  • Silicone and memory foam ear tips in all sizes, individually adaptable to ear canal depth
  • 1 extra-wideband transducer covering the entire frequency range

Review

The IE 400 Pro features Sennheiser’s TrueResponse technology for truly accurate in-ear monitoring.

This technology offers the simplicity of a single, extra-wideband transducer that covers the entire frequency range, perfect phase linearity, precise stereo imaging, and virtually distortion-free sound that is also devoid of crossover effects.

The IE 400 Pro also features the SYS 7 driver. This driver is Sennheiser’s smallest (7 mm) and most powerful transducer as well as one of the most comfortable earphones on the market. 

These in-ears are also distortion-free with only < 0.06% total harmonic distortion. Additionally, these fantastic Sennheiser in-ear monitors can withstand higher sound pressure levels.

They are also quite comfortable with an ultra-lightweight and compact design of the earmold. 

The IE 400 ships with a 1.3 m cable with a 3.5 mm jack, hard case, set of silicone ear adapters (S, M, L), set of foam ear adapters (S, M, L), 1/4″ jack adapter, and a cleaning tool.

In short, they one of the most reliable, accurate, and comfortable in-ear monitors on the market today, at a great price point

2. Shure SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones

Shure is one of the most respected companies in the audio world, and they produce several good models of in-ear monitors.

The Shure SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones are a great choice as they offer fantastic sound quality, comfort, and also an affordable price tag. These in-ear monitors come with the known reliability and durability that the Shure brand typically exhibits

Shure SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones
$99.00

You may not know it, but  the Shure SE215 earphones outperform many dual-driver earbuds on the market

Why We Love It:
  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Comfortable
  • Affordable
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10/23/2021 04:40 am GMT

Features

  • Sound-isolating design locks in sound and blocks out noise
  • Lightweight, low-profile shape with optimized nozzle angle rests comfortably in your ears
  • Detachable, Kevlar-reinforced cable is durable enough to withstand wear, yet allows easy replacement in case of damage
  • Over-the-ear configuration keeps cables out of the way
  • Gold-plated MMCX 1/8-inch connector has a lock-snap mechanism allowing 360-degree rotation for a comfortable fit

Review

The Shure SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones feature a single-driver earphones design that can outperform many dual-driver earbuds on the market.

This is accomplished thanks to Shure’s innovative MicroDriver technology, an advanced miniature driver design that lets these headphones reproduce sound frequencies of 22 Hz – 17.5 kHz with a high level of accuracy. These earbuds also offer 20 ohms of impedance.

Another great feature of the Shure SE215-CL is that they are designed to fit any ear in a comfortable and non-fatiguing fashion.

These isolating earphones feature Kit Fit, which includes three different sized sleeves (small, medium, and large) to make sure they fit appropriately. 

The SE215-CL was designed deliberately to block out noise for a fantastic listening experience

Additionally, they come with a 2-year limited warranty as well as a soft carrying case for your convenience. 

3. Etymotic Research ER4XR Extended Response Earphones 

The original ER4 earphones are considered by many to be the original isolating in-ear monitors and the first to employ this technology.

As this legacy has continued, few in-ear monitors today can offer the isolation and accuracy featured on the updated ER4 series models. 

Etymotic Research ER4XR Extended Response In-Ear Earphones
$203.58

Do you crave uncompromising sound quality but want a bit more satisfaction in the low end than strict accuracy? You're going to love ER4XR in-ear monitors.

Why We Love It:
  • Extra presence in the low end
  • Fantastic accuracy
  • 92% response accuracy from 20Hz–16kHz
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10/23/2021 06:20 am GMT

Features

  • In-ear monitoring for great accuracy but with bumped low end
  • Slight low-end emphasis retains accuracy while providing an added definition
  • Up to 42 dB of acoustic isolation
  • Includes detachable 5′ cord, 1/4″ adapter, flanged and foam ear tips
  • Ships with filter removal tool, replacement filters, shirt clip, zippered storage case, and performance certificate

Review

The Etymotic Research ER4XR Extended Response Earphones feature fantastic accuracy with a touch of extra presence in the low end.

This extra push on the bottom makes them a preferred option among drummers and bassists, especially for live performances. 

The ER4XR in-ear monitors also feature 92 % accuracy, 45-ohm impedance, and up to 42 dB of isolation, making them a high-end choice for musicians that demand the best. 

Another great feature of these in-ear monitors is that they ship with a series of useful items not commonly found in other models. These include a stylish zippered storage case for your in-ears and accessories.

Additionally, the ER4XR comes with a couple of pairs of Etymotic’s standard 3-flange ear tips, two pairs of large 3-flange ear tips, and two pairs of large black foam ear tips. 

You also get replacement filters to keep your in-ear monitors clean as well as a performance certificate that indicates that your in-ears met and passed the standards Etymotic holds their products to.

In short, the Etymotic Research ER4XR Extended Response Earphones are a superior choice for in-ear monitoring for live performance. 

4. Westone W60 Gen 2 Signature Series Earphones

The Westone W60 Gen 2 Signature Series Earphones are a 6-driver model that offer beautiful and smooth full-range sound, thanks to extremely efficient dual-frequency balanced-armature drivers.

These in-ear monitors also come with an impressive 25 dB of acoustic isolation to ensure that outside noise isn’t a factor.

Besides their high-performance EPIC cable, you also get an MFi cable, which includes an in-line 3-button remote and microphone for your iOS or Android device. This is our premium choice for this list due to its quality and features (and price tag!). 

PREMIUM OPTION
Westone W60 Gen 2 Signature Series Earphones

Get true audiophile sound from your in-ear monitors, with a pair of Westone Audio W60 Gen 2s.

Why We Love It:
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Beautiful sound
  • Great clarity
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Features

  • A series of 6 balanced-armature drivers delivers audiophile-grade sound
  • 2 low, 2 mid, and 2 high-frequency drivers for a total range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Passive acoustic isolation offers up to 25 dB of noise attenuation
  • The ballistic-fiber-reinforced, replaceable EPIC cable ensures audiophile-grade clarity
  • Includes additional MFi cable with 3-button remote/mic for iOS and Android devices

Review

The Westone W60 Gen 2 Signature Series Earphones feature superior comfort with excellent ear tips, as well as low-profile and lightweight earpieces that can easily block out up to 25 dB of external sound.

These in-ear monitors also feature Westone’s innovative balanced-armature drivers.

These compact and efficient transducers take up far less space than typical drivers, allowing Westone to pack more drivers into a smaller space than other manufacturers.

Coupled with a passive 3-way crossover, these multi-driver in-ear monitors achieve audiophile-grade precision and clarity across the entire frequency spectrum.

The W60 comes with a removable EPIC (Earphone Precision Interface Cable) cable made by Westone, which is easy to replace by hand.

However, chances are you won’t need to replace your EPIC cable, as they feature a durable braided outer layer and aramid fiber reinforcement that protects its flexible, ultra-low-resistance tinsel wire.

These in-ears ship with a full set of ear tips featuring every size of both True-fit foam tips and Star silicone tips.

Additionally, you can customize the look of your earpieces with three interchangeable faceplates. There’s also an included Wax Loop to keep your in-ears clean.

The Westone W60 Gen 2 Signature Series Earphones are not cheap, but you will certainly get what you paid for in the best possible way. If budget is not an issue for you, then these are the ones to get.

5. Mackie MP-320 Dynamic Triple-driver Professional In-Ear Monitors

The Mackie MP-320 dynamic triple-driver in-ear monitors feature three separate dynamic drivers to deliver your entire mix with clarity across the entire frequency spectrum.

Three different ear tip sizes are included for a great fit, and the included hard case provides a rugged solution for traveling, storing, and touring while keeping your in-ears protected.

These in-ears are one of the best choices for on-stage monitoring on the market today.

Mackie MP-320 Dynamic Triple-Driver Earphones

Featuring three individual drivers to reproduce bass, mids, and treble with exceptional accuracy, Mackie MP-320 dynamic triple-driver in-ear monitors deliver a superior stage monitoring experience.

Why We Love It:
  • 3 separate dynamic drivers
  • Great for traveling
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Features

  • Ergonomically designed in-ear monitors for enhanced sound isolation and full-range frequency reproduction
  • Triple-driver design offers balanced frequency response with detail 
  • Ergonomic design offers 40 dB of passive noise isolation
  • MMCX connectors allow the shielded, braided cable to be detached for easy storage or replacement
  • Three different types of ear tips in three different sizes 

Review

The Mackie MP-320 dynamic triple-driver in-ear monitors feature 40 dB of passive noise isolation, a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, sensitivity of 100 dB SPL @ 1mW, and 15.5 ohms of impedance.

Additionally, the MP-320 comes with a durable cable that is shielded and braided, along with MMCX connectors that allow it to be detached for easy storage or replacement.

This set of in-ear monitors are also quite convenient for the road, as they include a molded hard case with a handy clip to attach to your gig bag.

The MP-320 dynamic triple-driver earphones ship with a clear MMCX cable (no controller), black MMCX cable (with controller), 3 x pairs of silicone tips (small/medium/large), 3 x pairs of silicone wide-bore tips (small/medium/large), 3 x pairs of memory foam tips (small/medium/large), 3 x pairs of silicone triple-flange tips (small/medium/large), a cleaning cloth, the aforementioned hard case and a 1/4-inch adapter.

Overall, this is a solid choice from one of the most beloved brands in audio

(What are the top names in headphones in 2021? We’ve got you covered with 7 Best Headphone Brands (That Changed The Game))

6. Audio-Technica ATH-E70 Monitor Earphones

Audio-Technica is one of the most respected brands in audio, and the ATH-E70 Monitor Earphones are further proof of that.

This is AT’s flagship in-ear monitor model that delivers a triple driver earpiece, fits snugly in the outer ear, and comes with flexible ‘memory’ cables to hold them in place. A fantastic set of in-ears from Audio Technica. 

STUDIO PICK
Audio-Technica ATH-E70 Professional In-Ear Studio Monitor Headphones
$399.00

Audio-Technica ATH-E70 in-ear monitor headphones deliver incredibly accurate, high-resolution response across the entire frequency spectrum, thanks to a trio of balanced armature drivers.

Why We Love It:
  • Great bass response
  • Comfortable
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10/23/2021 05:55 am GMT

Features

  • 3 balanced armature drivers deliver accurate, extended response
  • Flexible memory cables loop over your ears for long-wearing comfort
  • Designed for maximum isolation
  • Durable detachable cable
  • Case and silicone ear tips are included

Review

The ATH-E70 in-ear headphone is an impressive model with quality in build and sound for a range of monitoring needs, not only live performance but also studio use. These in-ears feature a better bass response than most models at this price point

With the ATH-E70 you get a reliable and balanced sound. You can trust not only that they offer accurate monitoring, but also that they stay in place comfortably.

This is important for live performances, especially for musicians and singers that move about aggressively. 

You can wear these in-ears for long periods of time without experiencing ear fatigue or discomfort, in large part thanks to their silicone tips which aid both sound and comfort.

These Audio Technica in-ears feature three balanced armature drivers (low/mid/high), 39 ohms of impedance, a frequency range of 20 Hz – 19 kHz, and a sensitivity of 109 dB/mW.

In short, this is a great set of in-ears that are equally good for live performance and studio use.

7. Shure SE535 

The Shure SE535 was designed to deliver spacious sound with a good separation of highs and lows to aid in all your monitoring needs, especially for live performances.

This set of in-ear headphones comes from one of the biggest names in audio and offers the quality, comfort, and overall satisfaction that we’ve come to expect from the Shure brand

Shure SE535 

SE535s use three separate high-definition MicroDrivers to cover the whole frequency spectrum with staggering detail and clarity.

Why We Love It:
  • Spacious sound
  • Superb clarity
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Features

  • Excellent for in-ear monitoring
  • Triple high-definition MicroDrivers offer a listening experience with spacious sound and rich bass
  • Detachable cables with formable wire allow easy replacement, personalized comfort, and additional functionality
  • Sound-isolating sleeves block outside noise and provide a custom fit
  • 3-button controls and In-line mic

Review

The Shure SE535 triple-driver earphones use three separate high-definition MicroDrivers to cover the whole frequency spectrum with detail and clarity.

Each detachable cable’s formable wire lets you easily achieve the fit that is right for you. This is especially important for live performances where reliability and comfort are needed. 

The SE535 in-ears employ Shure’s sound-isolating sleeves to block out noise with up to 37 dB of Passive Sound Isolation.

Additionally, these in-ear monitors feature an impedance of 36 ohms, a frequency range of 18 Hz – 19 kHz, a sensitivity of 119 dB SPL @ 1mW, and a hard case for easy transport, storage, and protection. 

The Shure SE535 in-ear headphones ship with 1 – Bluetooth 5 earphone communication cable, 1 micro-USB charging cable, 1 universal 3.5 mm earphone communication cable, 1 soft flex sleeve (S, M, L), 1 foam sleeve (S, M, L), 1 yellow foam sleeves, 1 triple flange sleeves, 1 and a 1 – 1/4″ adapter. Overall, a solid in-ear set of monitors from Shure. 

(If you’re looking for the best set of closed-back cans for studio use, the Austrian Audio Hi-X50 might just take the cake. Check out our full review here!)