May 17, 2016430 views

Custom In-Ear Monitors

Quick check:
  • How many of you have a pair / pairs of CIEMs (and what are they)?
  • If you don't have a pair, what is stopping you from buying one (inconvenience, price, fitting procedure, sound quality, etc...)?

They lose out on the badassdom factor :)
These, on the other hand, don't:
I have a pair of JH-13Pro CIEMs (w/freq phase, but not v2). They sound amazing (clarity in particular) and have great isolation. However, most of my listening is at my desk at work, so I prefer to use full-sized headphones because they are more visible (so people can see that you are listening to headphones when they come to talk to you), and easier to put on / take off.
Price and fitting procedure ranks highly. Then there's the low resell value.
I bought a pair second hand, and then had a service re-shell them to my ears. Much more affordable that way!
I don't have a pair, price is about the only barrier as I've auditioned some and would definitely get a pair if I had the means.
Mainly cost. I don't have enough money.
Got a pair and they constantly need repair when all that teeny tiny wiring gets dislodged. I need a second pair as a backup for when the main ones are getting fixed, but it's a lot of dough for a quality set.
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They ain't the greatest (Tunz brand from Starkey hearing aids). First it was detachable cables always falling out or losing connection at the ear piece. Got them remade with fixed cables. Now the fixed cables continually crap out, either inside the hard molded enclosure or at the plug.
It's a hearing aid company. They probably make great hearing aids, but they're new at making CIEMs. If you buy from any reputable CIEM manufacturer, I'm sure you'd be fine.
I would love a pair but what's stopping me from getting some is getting impressions done and having to get them shipped to the manufacturer for a mold, so technically living overseas is what's stopping me.
What are they?
Was going to get a Noble 5 CIEM but the price in Thailand is way more than the universal one, so I bought the Fostex TH-X00 instead!
I have a reshelled pair - a combined UM UK 3x and SM3v2.
I have custom ear plugs for riding that i bought at a convention/event so i am familiar with the fitting process (i still wouldn't know where to go if i wanted to do it again). I also understand the performance benefits of IEMs achieving 'perfect' seal vs maybe not so perfect universals. There were times this year i thought about pulling the trigger on CIEM and these are things that i thought of that prevented a purchase:
There are many new manufacturers and models. Balanced armatures and dynamics and multiple drivers. Don't know what any of this stuff sounds like before i drop big $. I might be able to go to a store and audition/demo $3,000 Stax at least before i buy. Need to know that my custom product could be serviced in the future if something went wrong. Stax highly reputable and been around long time for example. I have had mixed experiences (borrowed or bought) with universal IEMS, some are just bad and some are acceptable/good - i wouldn't have had any idea if i didnt try it universally first. I would feel more comfortable getting a custom version of a universal IEM that i liked.
Another issue is the inconvenience of dealing with multiple parties/vendors to complete the transaction (massdrop purchase, going to impression maker, finding time to ship impressions to manufacturer, getting shipped from manufacturer that might not even be in this country, massdrop to ultimate customer). Personally i'd rather deal with one person to get the impression done and pick it up when it's ready in person. This is a personalized product.
Not sure what the solution is at this point.
I've been wanting to get a set of custom earplugs myself for travel. (Stay tuned for your last concern ;) )
Try going local, you can audition universal versions of most CIEMS, possibly get an impression there, and pick it up there. Unless you don't live close enough, then most manufacturers will let you get a test kit.
Finding someone to get impressions with, and price
No customs here but more universals than I care to list. What is stopping me:
1) I get a really good fit with the vast majority of my collection... except the RHA MA750..... wanted to love it... but I didn't. : ( 2) Price is a concern as my portable gear doesn't get near as much use as my home gear. 3) Price again - relative to aforementioned resale potential 4) Damn happy with the IE800's + E12A pairing, paid less for new than some used pairs sell for.
What continues to tempt me: 1) Noble
those finishes tho!
Custom Art Harmony8 - genius sound with Linum Bax cable
Waiting for my first pair of CIEMs to arrive - AAW W500AHMorph. My IE80 IEMs will have to do in the interim. I'd been holding off buying a pair of CIEMs for a while, but ended up folding with the recent A3H Pro drop... which I then upgraded to their flagship model.
One pair only, CIEM, the 1964 Ears V8.
I actually have 19 sets of CIEMs and I'm still not finished :) My first pair was a hybrid 3 driver from Cosmic Ears, but I don't have that one anymore
My first pair were the 1964EARS V6, which I gave to my dad so I could order the V8. Now that I have the universal U12, the differences actually aren't that great, sound-wise and isolation-wise. I also have a few other universal IEMs, including the Supra II and K10U. If I only had one IEM, I wouldn't mind if it was a CIEM or UIEM.
Can't wait to receive the Massdrop AAW W300AR!
dont have one, cause good ones are too expensive for me :(
Me too, I just don't have enough disposable income to purchase such expensive headphones yet.
I'm on my 3rd pair so far, all UE. My 1st was a SuperFi 5, then UE700 and now the TripleFi 10 sitting in my ear right now. I prefer IEM since they are so compact and convenient to travel with since I listen to music throughout flights, train and coach trips. Plus a pair of comply foam tips feels very nice in my ears and I don't get sweaty after long use like headphones as I live in a tropical country.
I don't, but I definitely wish I did. Mostly the price is holding me back. Being that I'm 20 and live at home, I'm broke, not counting the $1000+ I've spend on audio gear in the past year xD They will most assuredly be my next purchase, if and when I have the spare cash. I've got my eyes on the Ei.3 by CustomArt. It also doesn't help that I lust after gear well beyond my price range. God those K10's are so beautiful 😍
Not including the last MEE drop I have a pair of Mee Audio m6 pros, mee audio p1s and a cheap pair of phillips from a year or two ago. I've always been a fan of open back cans over all else but after getting the p1s I believe in soundstage from IEMs. They are a fantastic pair of plugs.
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Those are the m6p....the m6 pros are a different pair with removable cables. I think the cheapest I have seen them is 30-35 but typically they are 50 on amazon. I did get a pair of m6's from the drop that I gave away because I found them muted, bass was there (but muddy) mids to highs were very restricted. For 12 dollars they are decent though. Honestly I would at least pay the 30-40 to pick up a pair of m6 pros....they are more detailed with tighter bass and a better high range (though still a bit sharp for my tastes). Decent headphones overall though as long as you can get used to the over the ear cable system it uses.
I own the bose ie20i noise cancelling but the sound isn't the greatest. They were $300 so I'm willing to spend up to half that.. I like the clear shure 424 or 535 expensive though.
Apart from cost, I'd say the biggest barrier to me getting CIEMs is not finding a good audiologist around here to take ear molds. Beyond that, sending a pair back for remolding if needed would be a big pain as well.
In addition to googling "audiologist" (as suggested by @Breezy) try looking for "Hearing Instrument Specialist". People who only sell hearing aids (i.e. not audiologists who can diagnose and treat hearing issues) are often able to make custom impressions.
I don't have any IEMs though I intend to purchase a pair of 64 Ears or Alclair CIEMs within the year. Price is a big consideration, but I view this as an investment in my hearing. It'll also allow for better listening than my$30 Skullcandy earbuds do. I play onstage at a church and listen to the wedges, but wish to have a pair of CIEMs for sound isolation and volume control. As far as fitting, I am looking for somewhere that won't rip me off (I've seen $125 for impressions) but that will do it right. My friend got his done for free from Alclair when he got his Alclairs.
Google "Audiologist", there should be a few in your area you can call. Expect to pay $20-75 for both ears. I paid $50.
None of them have rates on their sites. This will take legwork and/or phone calls
CIEMs were the best evolution for me personally; I travel a lot for work and for pleasure, buying speakers or headphones were not exactly compact. Most decent headphones require an amp btw.
The "only you" fitting intrigue me and I've been using IEMs before this.
My suggestion? Do WAY cheaper introduction to Customs by moulding custom tips for your IEM. If you hate it, don't do Customs.
But if you do... =)
Have one pair of Sensaphonics sleeves for Shure ie3's from a decade ago. I got them because playing drums live was both hard on my ears and even harder because I'd have to crank up a wedge monitor to unsafe levels to be able to hear the band over my drums. Regular IEMs were okay but wouldn't stay seated well enough when sweaty/moving, and would take too long to put in and out reliably enough to get on stage. Losing your monitor mix mid-song is a nightmare.
After reality set in (i.e., finishing school and getting a reliably paying job), the custom sleeves see much less frequent use. Airline travel mainly. And then I lost one sleeve while walking around an F1 track (I thought it'd be nice to use them as earplugs and listen to the race broadcast). I'm contemplating getting a replacement soon. I think my molds should still be on file at Sensaphonics, and now I have the means of getting a multi-driver set rather than just sleeves. For me, sound quality with the Shures was good but not mind blowing. It was accurate enough for what I needed. But a multi-driver CIEM is very tempting now.
Ear shape can vary year to year, it's generally recommended to send a new set of impressions in.
I compulsively recycle gear. Half of this hobby for me is not so much looking for the perfect sound as it is just playing with newer shiny toys. Difficulty reselling is the primary reason I have not gotten into CIEMs.
I think that is what has stopped me getting into customs so far. If I am going to drop £500+ on an in-ear, I would want to know that it would still carry a similar resale value if I ever decided to sell it on, which is difficult with high end customs. I like the idea of the custom seal for travelling and long-haul flights, but the only ones that have tempted me so far are the Lear customs I mentioned above, as I want to try their tuneable universal version anyway and the cost is stupidly low for a full custom (c. £200-£250) so worth the gamble for something that might become my stock commuter "earplug".
I love custom IEMs. LOVE them! I find them incredibly comfortable in a way no universal can possibly match. And they sound VERY good too, in some ways even surpassing the best full size headphones.
At one point I owned most of the "important" models from UE, JH, Noble, Westone, 1964 Ears, Unique Melody, etc. But the industry is moving too fast and there's no keeping up now.
I'm thinking about upgrading to custom IEMs - how long do they last if you get a quality detachable cable?
The oldest pair I still have are about 7 years old. They still fit and work perfectly. But it really depends on your own physiology - supposedly the ears continue to grow/change all of our adult lives, at least in subtle ways. This could make a custom IEM no longer fit at some point in the future. And of course a large weight gain/loss could accelerate that process. As could wearing them in the gym and drenching them with sweat on a regular basis. Still, the same could happen to universal IEMs as well.