Two months ago I wrote this article regarding all the value for money IEM and earbud headphones I had at that time. Enjoying my VE Monk Plus made me want to try more vfm earbuds and below you will find a small list of some more I bought and tested so far.
Hi-Z is a very cheap set of earbuds that make the Monks sound like a toy for kids. While the Monks focus only in mids, the Hi-Z have a full presence in all frequency range. They have more and punchier bass and their mids are nice and warm . Contrary to the total lack of the Monks highs, the Hi-Z highs are shiny and crispy. Sometimes I find them a little bit brighter than I usually like it, but it’s a matter of preference. Their soundstage is really wide and to be honest this is the biggest advantage of a nice earbud comparing to most of the IEMs.
Although their construction is nothing special, their sound performance along with their really low price makes them the absolute value for money earbud for me so far.
The C01s come from the same factory with the Hi-Z and have almost identical specs. Soundwise, although I spent much time doing A/B tests, I did not notice any difference between them.
Their look is much fancier comparing to the Hi-Z. Both the drivers and the cable come in red color. The cable is a little bit springy and sometimes it can be annoying.
Based on the fact that they have almost twice the price of the Hi-Z, you would only want them if you prefer their look.
The TP16 are the most natural sounding earbuds of this list. The have a tight and punchy bass, neutral and balanced mids, while their highs are not so bright comparing to the other two sets, which makes them much more pleasing to my ears in long listening sessions. Their soundstage is a little bit smaller comparing to the others, but still wide and 3D.
They are nicely built and the use of this transparent cable makes them look and feel much more expensive than they actually are.
Although I clearly prefer the character of the TP16, I keep using all of my earbuds (apart from the Monks). I mostly use my the TP16 with my Fiio X1, while the Hi-Z (or the Colarad) make a nice combo with the Sansa Clip Plus.
To sum up, if you want to spend less than 10 euros and you like or don’t have a problem with bright highs you should definately go for the Hi-Z.
If you want to spend a little bit more and you prefer a more natural (and with less highs) result, then the TP16 is a perfect choice.
Please note that earbuds are not for everyone and they sound much different than IEMs. They usually have a nicer soundstage (wide with instrument separation) but they don’t provide a high degree of isolation and - the most important - bass performance is always inferior when comparing with a good IEM!