The next significant upgrade over 200 USD IEMs is the ones found in the 300 USD price point. Brands like Campfire Audio offer significant improvements to their 200 USD entry-level counterparts. Brands like QDC are also introduced in this price segment.
If you are coming from the 50-200 USD price point and want to take your IEM experience to the next level, then you have come to the right place. We have plenty of picks that appeal to both professional musicians and casual listeners. The list also includes a variety of sound signatures. There is something for everyone here.
For our top pick, we have an IEM that perfectly balances its stunning looks with its excellent sound quality. Our top sub 300 USD IEM is the QDC Uranus. Our top reference pick, on the other hand, that is designed for professional audio is the Etymotic ER4XR.
There are models to see, so keep on scrolling to find out more. Also, if you are looking for slightly lower priced IEMs, we have a Best IEMs Under 200 USD article as well. And if you are just a beginner in the IEM hobby, we also have entry-level gears in our Best IEMs under 50 USD article.
Please note: At the time of publishing, all recommended products were selling for $300 or less but prices fluctuate.
Best IEMs Under $300
QDC Uranus – Best Overall
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Driver Config: Hybrid Dual Driver (1 Ba + 1 DD)
Cable: Detachable (2 Pin Reversed QDC Pin)
QDC is a brand that is rapidly gaining attention in the audiophile community. They are relatively newcomers in the IEM market but they are already producing some of the best looking and best sounding universal and custom IEMs. Their flagship Anole line is already competing against the best products from more established brands like Campfire Audio.
Given their amazing track record, it is no surprise that their entry-level model also comes at a premium price. One of their entry-level models is the QDC Uranus. It is a dual-driver hybrid IEM that sets that bar for IEMs under 300 USD.
Before we get into the sound quality of the Uranus, we have to quickly talk about the aesthetics of the IEM. The QDC Uranus is one of the best looking IEMs under 300 USD. It improves the design of the Neptune and adds more life by giving it a more interesting purple and blue color scheme and by improving on the shape.
The semi-custom shape that was introduced in the Neptune returns for the Uranus. It has grooves that match most people’s ears. These grooves make the Uranus a comfortable IEM that should fit most ears. The design choice and craftsmanship of the shell is truly top-notch. It is nice to see how QDC is translating its excellent CIEM craftsmanship into a lower price point.
Like most of QDC’s offerings, the Uranus has a slightly V-shaped sound signature. Lows are punchy and satisfying since it is handled by the dynamic driver. Highs, on the other hand, are airy and detailed. They do not enter sibilant territory despite being quite forward.
The mids are the weakest aspect of the QDC Uranus. They are a bit recessed compared to the lows and highs. They are still detailed and pop out whenever they are needed, but some may still find them lacking.
The imaging on the Uranus is above average for an IEM. They have a good amount of depth and adequate present a good amount of spacing. The imaging is also spot on and it is easy to discern the direction of sounds.
Overall, the QDC Uranus has both the looks and the performance that you would expect from a highly regarded brand. It does not have any compromises in its build and its sound and truly delivers a satisfying experience. If you prefer a V-shaped sound signature and if you are a fan of QDC’s CIEM style design, then the QDC Uranus is one of the best IEMs that you can get in the sub 300 USD price range.
Pros: The QDC Uranus is one of the most attractive looking IEMs in the sub 300 USD price range. Its V-shaped sound signature is also well implemented.
Cons: The midrange recession may not fit everyone’s tastes.
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Driver Config: 1 BA
Cable: Detachable (2 Pin Reversed QDC Pin)
Prior to the QDC Uranus’ release, QDC’s entry-level IEM was the Neptune. Just like the Uranus, the Neptune garnered praise from audiophiles around the world due to its excellent design and sound quality. Despite having a lower driver count to the Uranus, the Neptune is still a worthy entry on this list.
In terms of the sound signature, the QDC Neptune is leaning towards a more neutral sound signature. It shares a lot of similarities with the QDC Uranus’ sound but with a few differences, particularly in the bass and midrange.
The QDC Neptune does not have as much slam or as deep as the Uranus in the bass. However, the single BA does an adequate job of giving body to songs. Highs on both models are similar, the Uranus being a bit smoother. However, the tradeoff of that smoothness is that the Neptune has more extension and is slightly brighter.
The biggest difference between the two models is the mids. The upper mids in the Neptune are more forward than the Uranus. Fans of male vocals will be more pleased in the Neptune’s midrange performance.
Imaging and soundstage are mostly similar in the two models. Again, the Uranus feels slightly wider and more refined. Overall, the performance of both the Neptune and Uranus in terms of imaging and soundstage is very close.
To sum up the differences, the Neptune has a better midrange performance compared to the Uranus’ recessed midrange. However, both lows and highs are better executed on the dual-driver Uranus.
In the end, it depends on your preferred sound signature. If you want a more neutral sound signature with a better midrange performance, the Neptune will suit you better. However, if you prefer more of a V-Shaped sound signature, then the Uranus will be a better fit.
Overall, the QDC Neptune is one of the best examples of a well built and well-tuned IEM. It has the looks and the sound quality to wow anyone who is looking for a sub 300 USD IEM.
The QDC Neptune carries the excellent design and tuning of QDC’s CIEMs. Both the Neptune and the Uranus set the standard for sub 300 USD IEMs.
The QDC Neptune’s bass and highs are not as refined as the QDC Uranus.
Etymotic ER4XR – Best Reference Monitor
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Driver Config: 1 BA
Cable: Detachable (MMCX)
Etymotic has been in the high-end IEM game long before the rest of the companies on this list have been established. They were a competitor to Shure, Sennheiser, and Ultimate Ears’ best offerings at the time.
Today, Etymotic’s IEMs still remains as one of the best reference IEMs around. The Etymotic ER4XR is Etymotic’s flagship model which is targeted towards professionals. Unlike the ER4SR, the ER4XR introduces a bit of additional bass in order to make the sound signature more energetic. However, the sound signature is still relatively flat and accurate and still manages to capture even the most subtle imperfections of tracks.
The Etymotic ER4XR has several differences to the rest of the IEMs on this list. In terms of the design and form factor, it does not have any standout design elements. The bullet-style design does not leave much room for any flashy faceplate designs or color options.
It keeps things simple with its black color scheme. It does have detachable MMCX cables which aren’t obvious at first glance. The shells are made of aluminum so you can be sure that the shells won’t break easily. Another thing that you will quickly notice is the ER4XR’s deep insertion tips.
Etymotic is using tri flanged tips in order to go deeper into your ear canal and in order to isolate as much noise as possible. While it may look intimidating at first, it is actually a comfortable design that manages to isolate better than most IEMs.
In terms of the sound quality, the Etymotic ER4XR is incredibly detailed but may also sound incredibly bland. Like most of Etymotic’s IEMs, ER4XR is going for a neutral sound signature with a bump in the midrange.
The Etymotic ER4XR is only utilizing a single balanced armature driver which is similar to the older Etymotic IEms. As proven by the likes of the QDC Neptune and Moondrop KXXS, a well-tuned single driver can outmatch multi-driver IEMs. And given Etymotic’s excellent track record, they certainly know how to tune drivers.
As mentioned earlier, the Etymotic tuned the ER4XR to have a slight bass boost to avoid a totally flat sounding signature. It isn’t over the top and is not strong or thumping like the other IEMs on this list. It adds body to the track but does not add any unneeded or excessive excitement or energy.
The mids are a bit forward and provide an accurate presentation of instruments and vocals. Despite the forward nature of the mids, they naturally sit well in the mix. The mids work well in conjunction with the rest of the frequencies.
The highs are well extended and detailed without sounding too harsh. They help give the impression that the ER4XR is a bright set without resulting in a fatiguing experience.
The downside of this accurate nature of the ER4XR is that it does not have enough energy. It simply is not designed to do that. Also, if you are still listening to lower quality or poorly recorded tracks, most of the imperfections will be revealed by the ER4XR.
Overall, if you want an energetic IEM for casual listening, then the Etymotic ER4XR is not the best fit. The rest of the IEMs on this list will serve you better. However, if you are looking for the most accurate sounding IEMs for professional work or critical listening, then the Etymotic ER4XR is one of the best IEMs that you can buy in the sub 300 USD price range.
Pros: The Etymotic ER4XR is one of the most detailed and most accurate IEMs. This is the IEM for professional work.
Cons: The flat sound signature will not appeal to fans who prefer a fun and bassy sound signature.
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Driver Config: Hybrid Quad Driver (3 BA + 1 DD)
Cable: Detachable (MMCX)
Fiio is a brand that is primarily associated with Digital Audio Players (DAPs). Their M11 and M11 Pro DAPs are some of the most popular high-end DAPs that are currently available. With their success in the DAP market, Fiio has also decided that they wanted to give the IEM market a go.
Despite having mixed results in their earlier efforts, Fiio has managed to create a winner in the sub 300 USD price range with the Fiio FH5. While it is not as pretty as the other models in this price range, its performance more than makes up for it.
In terms of the design and build quality, Fiio has opted for a more simple and minimalistic look with the FH5. It has an aluminum shell that looks elegant due to the absence of any form of branding on the faceplates. Its build quality has taken a leap from their past offerings.
Compared to other Fiio IEMs, the Fiio FH5 has a sturdier and more premium feeling shell. It is now comparable to the rest of the IEMs on this list. That alone is worthy of its price tag.
In terms of the sound signature, the Fiio FH5 has a balanced sound that manages to work well with different genres. The bass is slightly boosted which adds body and punch to low notes. The dynamic driver does a good job here as the bass sounds clean and clear even with the lower bass notes.
The midrange on the Fiio FH5 is balanced. It sits well in the mix and is neither lacking nor overdone. The highlights of the FH5’s midrange performance is the female vocals.
Female vocals are reproduced really well and manage to capture even the smallest details in the songs. Lastly, the treble is also well-executed on the FH5. There is enough extension to make the high-end detailed. But it is well controlled to prevent any form of harshness.
Overall, the Fiio FH5 has a safe tuning that is very hard to find any real flaws. It does not have the best treble extension in this price range, nor does it have the best bass performance. However, when taking the overall sound signature as a whole, the FH5 executes it very well and gives a pleasing experience.
Pros: The Fiio FH5 has a balanced sound signature that works well with different genres. The build quality is also comparable to the other IEMs on this list.
Cons: There are other IEMs that execute certain aspects such as the treble section better than the FH5. Fiio seems to have played it safe on this model.
Campfire Audio IO
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Driver Config: 2 BA
Cable: Detachable (MMCX)
The Campfire Audio IO is Campfire Audio’s two driver IEM and the upgrade to the single driver entry-level Campfire Audio Comet. Unlike the Comet, the Campfire IO is more similar to the rest of Campfire Audio’s IEMs due to its shell. It is one of Campfire Audio’s best looking IEMs but has a sound signature that is not for everybody.
The first thing that you notice about the Campfire Audio IO is its aesthetics. It is rocking an Iron Man theme with the red color on the shells and gold accents on the screws. It gives the Campfire Audio IO a premium feel that makes it look more expensive than its price.
Now, onto the sound quality. The Campfire Audio IO has a slightly U-shaped sound signature with a good extension on both the lows and the highs. The lows in the IO dig considerably deep and perform well especially considering it uses BA drivers.
It perfectly balances between a fun and analytical bass. It has enough extension and forwardness for bass focused genres but is able to step into the backseat whenever it is not needed. They perfectly give enough body to make songs sound complete.
The highs on the IO are well extended and have a sufficient amount of air. The well-extended highs prevent the Campfire IO from sounding too warm and complements the bass really well. Highs are never an issue in Campfire Audio IEMs, so you won’t be finding any harshness here.
The problem that most people have with the Campfire Audio IO is the bizarre cut in the upper mids between 2 and 3Khz. This becomes really noticeable in certain genres where the midrange is the focus. Certain instruments sound hollow and lifeless because of this cut.
This can be a bit of a deal-breaker, especially for fans of certain genres such as classical and vocal focused music. This midrange cut should not be there and it is a bit odd that Campfire Audio opted to have that.
Despite some of its flaws, the Campfire Audio IO is still a capable IEM. The lows and highs are well executed in the IO and its detail retrieval is excellent as expected from Campfire Audio. If the strange midrange recession does not bother you, then the Campfire Audio IO is still a great choice.
Pros: The Campfire Audio IO is one of Campfire Audio’s best looking IEMs. The bass and highs are also well-executed on the IO.
Cons: The campfire Audio IO has a strange upper midrange recession that makes certain instruments in the midrange sound hollow and lifeless.
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Driver Config: 6 BA
Cable: Detachable (MMCX)
BGVP became an instant favorite when they released the DM6. It was an IEM that perfectly utilized its 5 driver configuration and had a sound quality that could rival more expensive models. Now, they are back again with the BGVP DM7, the successor to their highly acclaimed BGVP DM6.
In terms of the build quality, BGVP’s CIEM experience comes into play. The DM7 utilizes a 3D printed acrylic medical-grade shell design that manages to be sturdy and light. Like QDC’s CIEM style design, the DM7 also has grooves that help with the fit. The shell is well designed and most people should be happy with the fit and comfort.
The BGVP DM7 ups the driver count and now has a total of 6 drivers, the most drivers on a single IEM that we have on this list. It utilizes a combination of Knowles and Sonion drivers, two reputable companies in the IEM industry. But of course, driver count is not everything as proven by the likes of the QDC Neptune and Uranus. They have to be implemented well in the IEM.
As proven by the DM6, BGVP knows what they are doing. The DM7 has a neutral sound signature that is leaning towards the warmer side. It has a punchy bass, a clear and detailed midrange, and well-extended and detailed but somewhat peaky highs.
The DM7’s bass response is punchy and fast. It brings a lot of energy but sometimes lacks the impact that dynamic drivers have. Nevertheless, it manages to fill the low end of the sound and should impress most users.
The DM7 has a nice slight emphasis on the midrange. It is forward enough to stand out in a busy mix. It has a nice presentation and presents a good amount of detail on both male and female vocals. Fans of vocal-based music will be delighted on the DM7’s midrange performance.
Like the Dm7’s bass presentation, the highs are a bit forward and in your face. On one side, this is good since there is plenty of detail and air. However, it can be a bit aggressive at times. The harshness becomes obvious when dealing with music with an emphasis on instruments that belong to the high frequencies.
Overall, the BGVP DM7 is a very competent IEM. Despite the treble peaks, the 6 drivers are implemented very well. There is a good amount of detail throughout the spectrum. The DM7 performs well regardless of the genre.
If you can tolerate a bit of harshness in the high-end in exchange for detail retrieval, then the BGVP DM7 is an excellent choice.
Pros: The BGVP DM7 implements well its complex 6 driver configuration. There is a good amount of detail retrieval throughout the frequency spectrum.
Cons: The BGVP has some harshness in its high-end reproduction.
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s