TWS earbuds vs In Ear Monitors

For many people who use listen to music, the choice of TWS earbuds vs In Ear Monitors (IEMs) may have popped up at some point.

Before moving on to which one’s better, let us define what they are first.

TWS earbuds

TWS stands True Wireless Stereo. A True Wireless Stereo earbud is simply an earbud or listening device that is wireless. TWS earbuds uses a Bluetooth antenna to receive digital audio signals from a source (e.g. a smartphone) before converting it into analog audio.

Analog audio refers to the sound vibrations that we can hear. TWS earbuds are named True Wireless because they are different from other Bluetooth audio devices that use adapters. TWS earbuds have the Bluetooth antennas built in and thus do not need any adapters. They’re simply plug and play.

TWS earbuds are designed for use by the general public. They do well in professional settings and are usually nice looking and eye catching.

Read: What are In Ear Monitors?

In Ear Monitors

In Ear Monitors also known as IEMs are listening devices that used to listen to very rich audio. They are characterized by rich sound and heavy bass.

IEMs were originally a niche product designed for audiophiles, musicians, DJs, sound/beat mixers, gamers etc. These are people who are very picky about their sound listening habits and require a good level of sound fidelity.

Due to this background, IEMs did not come cheap. One would usually need to procure one for several hundred dollars in the not so distant past but recently, IEMs have suddenly become very affordable. This is due to Chinese companies like KZ and QKZ and thanks to them, anyone can pick up an IEM on the cheap.

TWS earbuds vs In Ear Monitors

The TWS earbuds vs In Ear Monitors debate is a rather very interesting one as both devices have come to dominate the general market place. The TWS earbuds tend to be the more popular option whilst the IEMs tend to be more niche in nature.

Pros of TWS

  • Wireless
  • Convenient
  • Freedom of movement
  • Functionality

Cons of TWS

  • Battery issues
  • Latency
  • Poor sound isolation
  • Poor bass
  • Poor longevity

Pros of IEMs

  • Zero latency
  • Zero battery issues
  • Better sound quality
  • More bass
  • Sound isolation/passive noise cancellation

Cons of IEMs

  • Wires
  • Less convenience
  • Less freedom of movement


Now let’s proceed with the TWS earbuds vs In Ear Monitors debate.

The similarities between both audio listening devices are that they’re both small and portable and can be very affordable.

As for the differences, there’s plenty to run through.

The first thing that stands out immediately is the fact that TWS earbuds are wireless. This ensures that using TWS earbuds provide convenience, freedom of movement as well as extra functionality.

IEMs on the other hand use wires. This would limit convenience and freedom of movement.

On the flip side however, IEMs have zero latency, more bass, better sound, better sound isolation and no battery issues. Since IEMs are a niche device, a lot more attention is paid to the audio output. They also tend to have better longevity as well. IEMs with detachable cables also offer the option to switch to a wireless state by offering using Bluetooth adapters.

TWS earbuds do suffer from latency issues, have less sound quality, less bass, less sound isolation and need to be recharged frequently.


At the end of the day, what you choose should be dependent on your needs. If mobility, convenience and functionality is your need, then TWS earbuds should be spot on for you. However, if you’re looking for better sound and are willing to put up with cables then it’s a no-brainer. IEMs are best for you.

I have both devices and I use them as the occasion demands.

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2 thoughts on “TWS earbuds vs In Ear Monitors

  1. As someone that have used both, aside the convenience of moving around that the TWS has, I prefer the IEM in every other aspect.

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