I love the theory of IEMs. They are small and easy to carry with you. They don't leave band marks on your head when you listen to them at work. They isolate background noise very well. I'm confident that they can sound good.
I HATE IEMs... I have been seemingly on a never ending journey trying to find some that sound good for a very long time.
Cause of my woes:
I have a firm (not solid, I do make exceptions at times) rule that I will not spend more than $200 on an audio product without having heard it first. I will not try them out if they are on display in a store since, let's face it, that's kind of icky, so that option is out if it was an option in the first place. Similarly, there's really no way to try out custom IEMs without buying them, so trying to find someone to tune them to my taste is out. This has led me on a journey of disappointment and an ever increasing wallet set-back.
With full sized cans I can easily pick up a set that either sounds great and I'll love forevermore, or that I can easily mod into being great. Based on that, I'm sure good IEMs must exist in my price range. However, with IEMs, there are no mods per se, and I have never found any that I can get along with despite having, no kidding, multiple shoe boxes packed full of nothing but bad sounding IEMs and my own tears.
Surely I'm not the only person in this boat...
I'm not looking for recommendations for IEMs. I'm well aware of the recommendations out there. What I am looking for is advice on how you can get a good set without having tried them out to make sure they aren't terrible or maybe advice on how to try them out without the ick factor.