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In-Ear Monitors vs. Earbuds: Which Is Better?

In-Ear Monitors vs. Earbuds: Which Is Better?

Most people probably don’t know the difference between in-ear monitors and earbuds just by looking at them. But there are important distinctions between them. For starters, people insert IEMs directly into their ear canals, while earbuds stay on the outer ear. With the two devices competing against each other, you must wonder, “Between in-ear monitors vs. earbuds, which is better?” Find out here.

Noise Isolation

When it comes to noise isolation, there’s no doubt IEMs are better than earbuds. IEMs go directly into the ear canal. Consequently, they provide a much higher degree of noise isolation. However, you can only enjoy the full noise-canceling benefits of IEMs if you purchase a pair that seals completely into your ears. Furthermore, some people feel noise isolation is a detriment to their music experience, as it eliminates sounds you may need to hear for your safety.


When you look at in-ear monitors vs. earbuds and want to know which is better, you should note that earbuds are generally more comfortable. Although there may be certain instances where an IEM fits a person just right, people primarily seeking comfort are likely better off going with earbuds.

Sound Quality

Most people acquire earbuds free with another purchase. It should come as no surprise, then, that IEMs are usually made from better quality materials. People who like to hear every part of a song, from the lead vocals to the backup bass, should invest in IEMs. These devices make more minute sounds audible at lower volumes.

If you must turn up the volume all the way on your listening device to hear everything you want, you likely need to replace what you’re putting in your ears. By listening with high-end IEMs like Moondrop Starfields, you can hear more of what you want without damaging your ears.


It’s clear that IEMs have earbuds beat in areas related to noise isolation and sound quality. Audiophiles who want to listen to music closely and intensely will undoubtedly favor IEMs. However, if your goal is to listen to something comfortably and perhaps cheaply, earbuds are the way to go.

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