Has anyone ever had custom ear molds made?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by MacNut, May 7, 2019.

  1. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    Jan 4, 2002
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    CT
    #1
    I'm thinking about having custom ear molds made for ear plugs and in ear monitors. Has anyone had it done before?
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #2
    I had something similar done back in the mid-90s. I worked inside the West Coast Air Hub for UPS and with all the tugs, air containers, trucks and trailers, package cars, buzzers and belts, everything was high-decibel.

    I had two major problems. This was a physical job and because these were molded to the shape of the inside of my ear, sweat was a major problem. I also have Psoriasis so the combination of that, sweat and melted ear wax made for a real nasty mess when I pulled them out on break. Putting them back in again (after cleaning them) with still sweaty and slick ears meant they tends to shift and pop out.

    My experience anyway.
     
  3. Gutwrench Contributor

    Gutwrench

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    #3
    Yes. I had earpieces for both ears for a radio. If the molds are good the earpieces are comfortable. I recommend it for extended wear applications.
     
  4. jeyf macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    #4
    I had several, one set to block ambient noise and several others with sound drivers installed:

    -they will block a lot of noise but in a hyper noise envo significant levels of sound energy gets conducted through your body anyway

    -the ones with sound drivers all sounded great. The driver is inserted far onto your ear and is very efficient. Just good sound.

    -custom molded so the fitment is nice. You can wear them for hours. They stay in your ear during extrerm physical activity. I had no ear wax issues if I cleaned them as needed.

    Note:
    They are not wireless and iOS has a bug that flashes up “Voice Control” and than locks up for some wired ear buds.
     
  5. SDColorado Contributor

    SDColorado

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    Nov 6, 2011
    Location:
    Highlands Ranch, CO
    #5
    My wife and I each had a set of the EarInc iPlugz Sports done for use with our motorcycle Sena Coms. They have worked well for us.

    Their music monitors are of course much higher quality/fidelity, but also much pricier. Beyond what we needed.
    https://earinc.com/product-category/music-audio/
     
  6. MacNut thread starter macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #6
    I'm probably going to go to an audiologist and have my hearing checked. I'd love to get a nice pair of plugs for mowing the yard and such and other loud events that have obnoxiously loud sound systems. Also interested in a nice pair of in ear monitors.
     
  7. SDColorado Contributor

    SDColorado

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    Nov 6, 2011
    Location:
    Highlands Ranch, CO
    #7
    I have a set of the EarInc Instamolds that I use for lawn mowing, snow blowing, power tools and other loud situations. They are acoustic filtered so they allow some ambient noise through so you are not completely isolated, but block the loud harmful noises.

    https://earinc.com/product/insta-mold-acoustic-earplugs/

    These work fairly well for a non-custom plug as do Eargasm plugs

    EarPeace HD Concert Ear Plugs - High Fidelity Hearing Protection for Music Festivals, DJs & Musicians (Standard, Red Case) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076VTXWBP/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_9QK0CbJYW1K9A
     
  8. HeadphoneAddict macrumors 6502a

    HeadphoneAddict

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    Sep 16, 2007
    #8
    I have had several custom ear molds done for several sets of musicians in ear monitors, including LiveWires, HiFiMan RE-1000, Westone ES3X ES5 and ES60, Ultimate Ears UE11 Pro, and JH Audio JH13 Pro, JH16Pro, and JHA Roxanne.

    I have not done ear plugs, though I have been to the shooting range several times with my JH16 Pro and they block enough sound to be shooting safe (at least 26dB sound reduction).

    Most of mine are the top of the line models, and it would be hard to recommend a lower cost custom IEM since I haven't listened to cheaper ones in a few years. I've reviewed a few of those above on Head-Fi.org forums, and enjoy them all.
     
  9. MacNut thread starter macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #9
    When getting custom monitors made do most audiologists have access do different brands or do you go with what they have?
     
  10. HeadphoneAddict macrumors 6502a

    HeadphoneAddict

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    Sep 16, 2007
    #10
    The first audiologist I went to (Beltone) didn't sell any brands of IEM, but would take the ear impressions and give them to me to send to the company that I was using. I used the first ones for a set of Westone UM-56 custom ear tips for their universal fit monitors, to replace the universal silicone tips that came with my Westone 3 about 12 years ago. But you can mail your impressions to whomever you want to buy from.

    After that I started going to audio shows in 2009, like CanJam in LA and Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, and they would have someone at one of the booths taking ear impressions to send to a variety of companies.

    So I would highly recommend doing some research, and pick a brand regardless of who your audiologist is affiliated with, and even better, try to find an audio show to try out some universal fit demos. At these audio shows, most companies will have some universal fit demos to try, but I find that much of the time the demos are not quite as good as the final custom fit product which is better.

    JH Audio almost always has some very good sounding universal fit demos, and the final custom version sounds even better. Westone has great custom IEM, but they don't make universal fit demos of the custom models, although they sell commercial universal fit IEM that sound similar enough to get an idea of what you'd be getting (their W60 and W80 are great, but the W80 need more power than W60 which can be driven easily by an iPhone lightning adapter or their bluetooth adapter cable).

    As long as the demos you try don't have muddy bass or sibilant treble, then they are not likely to sound worse in the final custom fit model - except in one case, where my UE 11 Pro final version was quite bass heavy until I discovered that they needed a headphone output with a very low output impedance (like less than 1-2 ohms output impedance). From an old iPhone 3Gs the bass was boomy and poorly controlled, but from a 5.5G iPod video or a $1000 maxed out Woo WA6 amplifier they were great. But any amp with a 10 ohm output impedance on the headphone jack would make their bass lose control.

    I got three sets of impressions done at CanJam 2009 in LA, and got a pair of Westone ES3X, Ultimate Ears UE11 Pro, and Jerry Harvey Audio JH 13 Pro. I was able to hand deliver my personal ear impressions to the different companies right there at the show. Now CanJam is held at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest each year, with 1 or 2 shows a year being held elsewhere like in NY or London, and they have at least 15-20 companies peddling custom molded IEM with demos.

    I did a huge detailed "Flagship IEM comparison review" on Head-Fi.org after CanJam 2009 in LA, and I was hooked. Later I got the Westone ES5 (wonderful) and then ES60 (phenomenal), as well as the JHA 16 Pro Freqphase (great right out of a phone) and their Roxanne (fantastic but needs to be amped for best results). I was so happy with those that I have stopped looking for better after that, and only got the RE-1000 later on as a beta tester.
     
  11. MacNut thread starter macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #11
    How many drivers do you need, I see some go from 3 up to 12.
     
  12. jeyf macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    #12
    I have had several pairs with drivers. I Stopped buying them when it looked like things were going wireless
    -Where i would NOT buy the DIY home ear mold kit i usually got a new pair at a local high end motorcycle shop. No big to getting correct fitment but you will need a technician doing it
    -you can choose your ear plug color. I would choose bright colors so if they fell out you can find them easy day or night. Different colors for left right too.
    -the wear point; always where the wire solders to the driver. No place to strain relief the solder point since the whole assembly is super soft flex silicone. To that ends keep it simple; single medium quality driver soldered to soft flex wire.
    and
    think about where you will be wearing this; usually while cutting the grass and listening to a iPhone or at the gym lots of activity. You might not be concentrating on the sonic quality.
    -the soft flex wire is many small strands of metal, typically stainless steel, wound around a cotton core. This is not something you can solder repair at home.
    -usually the technical doing the initial fitment will give you the molds so if you want to replace or get a second set you don't have to go for a additional fitting

    anyways do what you want
     
  13. Scepticalscribe macrumors Westmere

    Scepticalscribe

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    The Far Horizon
    #13
    My mum had, for her tinnitus and deafness, but she refused to wear them.
     
  14. HeadphoneAddict macrumors 6502a

    HeadphoneAddict

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    Sep 16, 2007
    #14
    3-drivers is usually enough, but it depends on the manufacturer. I imagine that some might try to "hold back" performance on the ones with fewer drivers, so that they don't cannibalize sales of their higher driver count models. I've tried a 10-driver beta for one manufacturer, that I thought has a little bit of sibilance in the high end, and I preferred their 6-driver unit, and they disregarded my opinion and told me they would go ahead with production - I have no idea if they fixed the issue. So, more drivers isn't always better as well.

    My Westone ES3X 3-driver custom fit IEM sound much better than the Westone UM3X universal fit version, but they cost over 2-3x as much as the universal fit version. The custom version was created 1st, and then they ported the design over to a universal fit. The ES3X compete well with other company's 4-6 driver IEM, and remind me a lot of a well amplified $1,500 Sennheiser HD800 over the ear headphone.

    On a budget, I demo'd the Ultimate Ears UE4 Pro about 10 years ago and they were quite nice for $399. I was going to buy a pair and the rep knew I was doing a review and upgraded me to the UE11Pro for just a little more. The UE4Pro were replaced with the UE5Pro for $499 and I have no idea if those are as good or better.

    I have not tried the demos of the budget JH Audio custom IEM (modified for universal fit as demos), but I haven't heard anything bad from them yet, and I own 3 of their top of the line IEM.

    Some dynamic driver IEM will have one driver, or a dynamic low end driver paired with a balanced armature tweeter, for 2 drivers. The HiFiMan RE-1000 are a single driver dynamic custom IEM that are almost as good as the ES3X, but they have a "loudness" shaped frequency response with more bass and treble than midrange, while the ES3X seem to have a very flat frequency response while maintaining very strong bass.

    Also, most of the good IEM will have a removable cable, so it can be replaced when it wears out.
     

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13 May 7, 2019