Ohhh yes. At last, this is it!
Blu Tack - Price: £0.72
"Blu-Tack is a versatile, reusable putty-like pressure-sensitive adhesive produced by Bostik, commonly used to attach papers to walls or other surfaces.
The original version of the product was white, then blue, but many colours are now available."
Blu Tack - Wikipedia
Guys, after several years in my quest for the Holy Grail of the audiophile Heaven, I'm very glad to share with you the secret that, finally, has made it for me.
My headphones are the Westone UM2 but this should be valid for any type of in-ear headphones where you can remove the provided foams. I.e., Shure e2c, which I owned before, come to my mind.
I removed the provided foams for my Westone UM2:
I found out that Blu Tack is actually recommended by UK doctors to protect surfers ears and it has been evaluated in these medical studies too, though they are not publicly available:
Ear protection against water-borne infection: an objective evaluation
The Journal of Laryngology & Otology (1986), 100: 1337-1340 Cambridge University Press
Eight different ear plug materials were tested, in 5 ears each, in artificial shallow underwater conditions for 30 minutes, in order to determine their efficacy in sealing the ear canals to avoid water-borne infections in ear canals and open middle ears. Most of the plugs tested would meet everyday requirements for protection, but the polymeric foam plugs, treated with petroleum jelly, and moldable plastic materials were most effective in protecting both the middle ear and the ear canal skin.
Yet another study:
Mitchell, I. C. (1991). "'Silicon ear wax' and 'Blu-Tack' ear-plugs," Med. J. Australia, May, 154, p. 712. /998/
Med J Aust.1991 May 20;154(10):712.
I warmed some Blu Tack with my fingers and stuck it around the headphones, taking care not to block the sound aperture, obviously.
Then I placed them in my ears.
I made sure I got a proper and comfortable vacuum seal by molding them with my fingers all around.
Finally, I connected them to my reliable Rio Karma, hit play on "Time" track, by Pink Floyd, from my beloved and trusted "Dark Side of the Moon" album and...
...instant jaw dropping!
Yesss! This is it! Aaaah... at last, amazingly deep and powerful bass, colourful and alive middle tones and laser defined highs!
I knew that Blu Tack had been suggested before for HD280, A900 and similar cans, but, to the best of my knowledge, I never considered it could be used for in-ears too, for fear that it might damage the headphones or be unhealthy for the ears.
Actually, I came across this method purely by chance. Sometimes, if I need a proper night of sleep and it's early in the morning already, I have to use some wax plugs in order to block outside noises that might prevent me from sleeping.
Recently, I run out of wax plugs. But I had some Blu Tack around and I thought it had a similar texture and was malleable enough to fit a one piece ball inside the ear big enough to seal it, without risking it to get inside, as I have been doing for years with the wax plugs.
I checked the net and found that Blu Tack is actually recommended by NHS doctors in the UK to prevent...
"There are many products out there specifically designed for this purpose. I've tried the following:
* "Doc's Pro Plugs" - £12 a pair. Specifically designed for surfing. Ears still fill with water.
* That funny silicone stuff - about £8 a tub. Falls out easily. Ear fills with water
* Those things that look like miniature blue toilet brushes. £5. Ears drenched.
* Individually moulded ear plugs from the hospital - £30ish. Fit so well they take ages to get in and you can't hear a thing but ears still fill with water."
Knowing I'd tried everything that's ever been produced to combat the problem without success, when my ear surgeon told me to try Blu tack, I was more certain than ever that the NHS was doomed, but I had nothing to lose so placed a pack of "The original re-usable adhesive" in my Mexico suitcase.
What a winner! I know I'm not the first surfer to discover this but it really, REALLY works. I surfed twice a day for three weeks and not once, no matter how many wipe-outs or duck dives I'd been through, did I come out of the sea with a single drop of water in my ears. It's amazing, and you don't even need to use a new bit every surf. It stays sticky and makes the perfect seal time after time, and that's coming from a man with the hairiest ears on the planet.
If you're starting to have ear blockage problems, try it. It works, it's cheap, it might save you a few nasty operations and most importantly, Swanny gets a good night's kip!"
Finally, some pics:
I'm willing to bet that this is EVEN BETTER than having a custom fit done for you by an audiologist. As we know, there are loads of people who have to go back to the audiologist to get a proper seal. Even when they do, as we all know, the shape of our ears change with time, due to several reasons, sudden increases in body fat and so on.
Blu Tack guarantees that you will always get a proper seal for HOURS, without any risk of infection for your ears.
Let me know how this works for you if you try this.
And if it does, just share your love!
Simple. Easy. Brilliant.
I know, I know, thanks, thanks.
November 6th, 2011 UPDATE:
Nightslayer has also tried this with satisfying results:
I think some other people might find it useful that I repost this ( http://www.head-fi.org/t/491040/diy-custom-eartips#post_7870434 ) here too.
I recently purchased a pair of Westone UM1s after I lost my Crossroads Quattros, took rather long to get used to the rather bass-deficient sound but I was quite happy with the overall sound signature. Switched from the comply tips to the Shure Olives, and found that that helped a bit. Then I was looking around and found this:
Well I thought it was rather interesting to try out, but I lacked the money to go to an audiologist to get a bunch of ear impressions (paying a third of the price of the earphones for an experiment? I'd rather not) and didn't have the balls to stuff epoxy in my ear like that madass in the second thread, due to me coming across forums which warned against stuffing anything into your ear whatsoever.
I coated them with nail polish and tried out the steps which the guy in the first link did, but then I discovered working with silicone and oil is a horribly messy process, not to mention not for someone impatient like me. Aside from getting almost uncured silicone in my right nozzle (which thankfully didn't impact the sound once I removed the waxguard, I was panicking like crap), removing half-cured silicone from a silicone mould turned out to be a lot harder and messier than I expected.
After a while I came across another thread in which the guy replaced his eartips with blu-tack and actually liked the sound:
so I decided heck-it-why-not and started trying to poke a hole through the impressions I had, and then dig out a bit of blu tack to form an outline of my UM1s and stuck it in. And the result would be:
Yeah green and pink don't really go, but I'm a guy and I couldn't get my hands on black nailpolish. ><
The earphones stick out a bit more now out of the ear though.
Sorry for the slightly blurry quality, phone cam with my left hand >< But it fits like actual customs.
Sound signature wise.. IT ACTUALLY WORKS. Or rather, I'm happier with the sound now. On the overall, the sound quality has lost a bit of its neutral quality for a more organic sound; the trebles are less well defined while the mids have lost a bit of their shine, imo. But on the other hand the trebles on the earphones were slightly too tinny for my liking in the first place, and the mids still have their strong bodied quality. The soundstage has also improved quite a bit, with instrument separation improving likewise. But the most significant impact would be on the bass response, which was previously quite inaudible but is now quite defined. And blu-tack eartips actually don't really look or feel like crap after being coated with a nice layer of nail polish (coat it with a clear layer first, then whatever you'd like to do with it). The isolation has actually improved, too. I thought the foamies were great at isolating sound, till I tried these on and went deaf to the outside world. (:
NOTE: Please be advised that I haven't tried this with other brands of similar material or Blu Tack "imitators".
Texture and consistence of other types of materials might affect the final result or even not work as expected here.
Edited by deafmutelame - 11/6/11 at 1:58am