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Best IEMs in 2022

We had some pretty decadent releases in the world of in-ear monitors this year. Whether you’re looking for an endgame IEM or just want to pine longingly after the things you and I both wish we could afford to take home with us, you’ve come to the right place. Some of these releases are from last year, but are nonetheless still worth the mention as they have held onto their crowns. Let’s jump into the best IEMs in 2022.

 

64 Audio Fourte Blanc ($3700)

If you’re already aware of this release, you’re probably not surprised to see it make the list. 64 Audio’s Fourte Blanc is the third IEM in the company’s Tia line, preceded by the Tia Fourte and the Fourte Noir. The Fourte Blanc is a highly limited edition release like the Fourte Noir was, with only 500 units being made commercially available. The Blanc follows 64 Audio’s one-of-a-kind “tia” design principle of tubeless drivers, and instead uses a special tia single bore design that avoids resonance issues that can arise from tubes.

 

The Fourte Blanc has a powerful and driving low end, fairly balanced mids that slightly favor the warmer lower mids, and a strikingly bold treble response that lands in a sharp and satisfying contrast to its bass and subs. Being the premium release that it is, the Fourte Blanc doesn’t struggle much with producing an extremely wide image that has a moderate amount of external depth present. The Blanc made it on this list for its ability to deliver powerful and well-defined layers of energy while keeping a highly refined distinction between all parts of a mix.

 

Only 500 units of the Fourte Blanc will be made available. Buy one here from Audio46.

 

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 22 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 114 dB
  • Impedance: 10 ohms

 

Campfire Audio Trifecta ($3375)

Campfire Audio, Trifecta, Limited Edition, in-earmonitor

I don’t need to tell you this because you’re probably already gawking at the picture, but the Trifecta looks insane, like something off the Dune set. Its futuristic look comes from the high-quality rare metals that go into its build: nylon housing that contains gold-plated driver cases, silver-plated internal wiring, beryllium-copper MMCX components – you get the idea. Campfire Audio’s Trifecta contains 3 dynamic drivers, but interestingly enough, no cross-over system. Instead, Campfire Audio individually vented the drivers, then positioned them to face each other triangularly in an acoustic chamber designed to optimize such a setup.

 

Though the Trifecta’s tone is generally full throughout, it can be defined by a massive low end that’s widely boosted well into its high-bass frequencies, but as you may expect, maintains an incredibly tight control that avoids emphasizing awkward or unnatural low frequencies. Mids briefly return to balanced levels before ramping back up in the high mids and finding several emphasized peaks throughout the remainder of its treble. Campfire Audio’s Trifecta may raise some people’s suspicions when they first see such an elaborate-looking and off-the-wall in-ear monitor, but the Trifecta backs up its style with confidently world-class sound quality.

 

Only 333 units of Campfire Audio’s Trifecta will be made available. Buy one here from Audio46. 

 

  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 94 dB
  • Impedance: 6 ohms

 

Empire Ears Legend Evo ($3099)

Empire Ears, Legend Evo, bone conduction

Released towards the end of 2021, Empire Ears’ Legend Evo has been rattling skulls all year long. The Evo contains an eyebrow-raising 16 drivers with a 10-way crossover system, but the star of the show is the Weapon X bone conductor. This driver specifically forgoes standard ear drum conduction and instead vibrates bones in the inner ear to send frequencies to a listener’s auditory nerve. For one, this results in broadening the range of standard human hearing, as frequencies below 20 Hz and over 20 kHz become perceptible when transmitted to our ears through solid mediums (such as bones).

 

Secondly, on a less technical level, bass-heavy tracks produce vibrations through a listener’s skull quite unlike any other IEM on the market right now, which leads to a whole new dimension of staging and imaging. Though bass heads have obviously fallen in love with it, the Legend Evo also has a lot to offer in the way of clean track separation that avoids muddy masking, thanks in part to its 10-way crossover system. Whether you’re a bass enthusiast or just looking for the next level of IEM innovation, Empire Ears’ Legend Evo is a hell of an entertaining in-ear monitor.

 

Empire Ears’ Legend Evo is available here from Audio46.

 

  • Frequency Response: 5 – 35
  • Sensitivity: 103
  • Impedance: 4.5 ohms

 

Noble Audio Viking Ragnar ($4000)

Noble Audio, Viking Ragnar, flagship

The Viking Ragnar in-ear monitor is Noble Audio’s new flagship IEM that was released towards the end of 2022. The company ditched plastic altogether for the design, using aluminum for the housing and stainless steel on the face plates which were designed by jeweler Chris Ploof. The Viking Ragnar has a four-way crossover system with 10 drivers: 2 dynamic, 4 balanced armature, and 4 electrostatic.

 

Though there is a moderate low-end boost present in its EQ profile, the Viking Ragnar is a pretty balanced IEM with some bright tendencies. Upper mids are somewhat favored in the center frequency balance, while the high mid boost present in most IEM and headphone tunings is placed surprisingly further up in the 5 – 10 kHz range. This results in high-definition transients and sharp, biting hi-hats.

 

Noble Audio’s Viking Ragnar is available here from Audio46.

 

  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 40 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 112 dB
  • Impedance: 17 ohms

 

 

 

Vision Ears EXT Elysium Extended ($2960)

Vision Ears, EXT, Elysium Extended, Audiophile

Besides being one of the best IEMs you can get right now, Vision Ears’ EXT Elysium Extended is among the chicer-looking IEMs on this list with its futuristic computer-chip aesthetic. Each side of the IEM contains 2 electrostatic drivers and, a bit unusually, two dynamic drivers: a 9.2mm DD for low end, and a 6mm DD for mid-range. Vision Ears’ HALC (High Precision Leveling Chamber) is utilized for precise tuning, while an STC (Side Tuning Chamber) was used to zoom in on and further fine-tune the mid-range.

 

Though not possessing a U-shaped EQ thanks to its full and present mid-profile, it’s the interplay between the bass and treble that make Vision Ears’ EXT balance a standout. Bass in general and subs specifically are loudly boosted, but controlled with an iron fist that gives them striking precision along with impactful slams and rumbles. A boost is present in the high mids as it would be in most headphones or IEMs, but then runs all the way through the highs as well, even leaning proudly into the 18 – 20 kHz area. Not only does this result in sharp smacks landing poignantly against thick booms, but it also reveals extremely fine layers of details in reverb and vocal air without losing the forceful characteristics of its overall balance.

 

The Vision Ears EXT (Elysium Extended) can be purchased here from Audio46.

  • Sensitivity: 108 dB
  • Impedance: 10 ohms

 

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