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Are (High-end) Custom IEMs Overrated? - Page 27  

post #391 of 467

The color is Teal Blue & I tried to match the color of the TF10, the CIEM is made by me, not branded, and not named.

 

Picture10.jpg

Regarding prices:

 

Yes it is true that prices vary among manufacturers, and I think it is safe to say that the CIEM companies that carry CIEMs as their "core" product are more expensive than CIEM companies that defray costs among other products they make that require the same tools, employees, materials etc etc.  For example, Fisher Hearing, they have been building hearing aids and ear molds for over 2 decades. CIEMs are not their core product, never have been and probably never will be. That said, they had the equipment, and knowledge base to extend out to CIEMs and so CIEMs are just an extension to them.

 

Historically speaking, I think it is safe to say most "budget" CIEM companies that sub-contracted CIEM manufactureing failed. Their prices were what I call, "unsubstainable" and the quality of their products were "questionable" along with their CS. Even UE almost failed many years back, when Westone decided to no longer to support UE for manufactureing, and without "Noy" UE probably would have failed.

 

Can prices come down?    To some extent, Yes.  There has yet to be "real" competition in an area of the world where labor is cheaper, and if you get more companies that can produce quality products where labor is cheaper, (and have infrastructure that enables them to compete in the US market)  they will have to compete among themselves, not just compete against US based companies. I think then you will see prices come down some more. But again, materials, such as drivers, cost the same world wide, and something that most folks don't consider are taxes!  Import taxes are a killer, and another killer is UV liquids. The liquid is considered "Hazardous material" and it shipped out of Germany. The fact that it is "Hazardous material" essentially doubles the cost of a bottle of liquid due to shipping restrictions/costs.

 

Folks, as a hobbiest, as an enthusiast, I have built both CIEM and IEM, I like them both. Is any one better than the other? It depends on the criteria, and as my wife would say, "They are not the same, you can't compare the two."

 

 

Dr. John Moulton

Here at Noble, we craft some of the finest universal and custom in-ear monitors available today. 

post #392 of 467

Picture NRA Values.jpg     You are NOT mistaken, and if I remember correctly the research done on this was by Mead Killion, LONG before he began building IEMs (Mead Killion, fellow audiologist and founder of ER)

 

    

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyro View Post




For an analogy, imagine the top line universals being the top of the line fully loaded 6 cylinder $30K level Accord, Camry or Maxima.  And the top line customs being the high end Mercedes, Lexus or Acura costing in the $60K-80K range.  While they are certainly better, how can you fault much about the first three?

 

By the way, unless I am mistaken I do not think acrylic customs provide tops in isolation.  I am guessing some sort of foam or comply tip would provide even better isolation.
 

 



 


Edited by FullCircle - 7/16/11 at 5:29pm

Dr. John Moulton

Here at Noble, we craft some of the finest universal and custom in-ear monitors available today. 

post #393 of 467

I think CIEM is all about isolation. Overrated? I don't think so (think isolation). Overpriced? For the multi-BAs (>3)  - I think yes (think SQ and "diminishing returns").

post #394 of 467

According to the research, foam offers better isolation than custom:

 

NRR2.jpg


Edited by FullCircle - 7/16/11 at 6:00pm

Dr. John Moulton

Here at Noble, we craft some of the finest universal and custom in-ear monitors available today. 

post #395 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post




And even 20-30% compared to some - not all - top-tier universals may be a bit of a stretch. Here we also need to take into account sound preferences and what we personally regard/define as good SQ - e.g. I've found my EX1000 & MDR-750 to be a good 30-35% better than the SM3, about 25% better than the SE535 & SE530, roughly 20% better than the IE8, some 10-15% better than the UM3X/TF10/CK100, and about 5-7% better than the W4.

 

Yesterday I received my MDR-7550s and, on the whole, they're ever so slightly better even (to these ears) than the EX1000. So, this evening I put my EX1000s up for sale, and the $350 MDR-7550s are 30% cheaper than the $500 EX1000, though both can be had now for $300 & $400 respectively from authorised dealers (still a 30% price difference).

 

In my particular case, if the only top-tier universals I knew were the SM3/SE530/SE535 and my universals EX1000 & MDR-7550 were not universals but customs and worth, say, $1000, I might have thought that 'my new set of customs' worth so much money had gived me that improved sound.

 

I'd still have to worry about extra costs, re-fits, resale value, shipping, ear impressions, etc.

 

 

Indeed. In my case, if I had the 1000 and 7550, I'd probably still want the latter due to (going by your review) things like bass extension (I listen to a lot of stuff that goes into sub territory). Different strokes and all that. However as stated, as a package, I can't stand how the Sony's look, and I didn't find the fit particularly great for my ears (I tried someone's at the meet for a bit), and like an amazing sounding Chinese DAP with a terrible UI, although SQ comes first, it doesn't over-ride some of the other criteria. For customs, I keep coming back to the dynamic customs from FutureSonic. Less reviews, less hype, but my gut tells me that they'll satisfy my various criteria, skip all this 'more drivers than you!' stuff, and they have a sneaky way of pulling you into the brand by offering a substantial discount for upgrading to future models when they come out (unlike all those JHA owners who bought 13s then bought 16s, then bought 3As - $4000 later...), so as DD tech improves, it shouldn't cost too much to follow. Pity they don't do the soft custom tips Westone are now doing, seems like a good idea.

 

Btw I saw this thread and thought of this one:

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/540863/shure-se535-vs-jh13-vs-jh16-vs-ue18pro

 

More drivers = BETTAR!!!1 

 

Makes me wonder if some companies stick with BA drivers just because they can keep adding more  to fuel this 'more is better' thing. I can just see myself getting the FSs and being asked a meet or something how many drivers they have. Look forward to going "one". Last page of the ES5 thread has some interesting stuff too w/regards to the UERM, and it's three (only three!) drivers. 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/495931/westone-es5/2940


Edited by Somnambulist - 7/16/11 at 6:00pm
post #396 of 467

For my builds, I stick with BADs due to their size, the ear has limited floor space. I think the smallest dynamic is 6mm.  The most drivers I have ever been able to place in a CIEM is 20. (see my facebook for photos of that build http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1743020015221.2090595.1230330436&saved )

 

Honestly, I think 20 is the limit, at least for my ear!

 

I am grateful that the ER4P and the Klipsch X5 are on the market today, they are great examples of single drivers that can "pull" a lot of weight. But sometimes my hands begin to shake, and I just have to reach over and grab a pair of my CIEMs loaded with two hard hitting Knowles CI 2295 and feel the base!

 


 


Edited by FullCircle - 7/16/11 at 6:26pm

Dr. John Moulton

Here at Noble, we craft some of the finest universal and custom in-ear monitors available today. 

post #397 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by FullCircle View Post

For my builds, I stick with BADs due to their size, the ear has limited floor space. I think the smallest dynamic is 6mm.  The most drivers I have ever been able to place in a CIEM is 20. (see my facebook for photos of that build http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1743020015221.2090595.1230330436&saved )

 

Honestly, I think 20 is the limit, at least for my ear!

 

I am grateful that the ER4P and the Klipsch X5 are on the market today, they are great examples of single drivers that can "pull" a lot of weight. But sometimes my hands begin to shake, and I just have to reach over and grab a pair of my CIEMs loaded with two hard hitting Knowles CI 2295 and feel the base!

 


 


Did you have enough space to fit the crossover as well? How were the drivers routed for each frequency? OMG!!! basshead.gif

 

post #398 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by FullCircle View Post

For my builds, I stick with BADs due to their size, the ear has limited floor space. I think the smallest dynamic is 6mm.  The most drivers I have ever been able to place in a CIEM is 20. (see my facebook for photos of that build http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1743020015221.2090595.1230330436&saved )

 

Honestly, I think 20 is the limit, at least for my ear!

 

I am grateful that the ER4P and the Klipsch X5 are on the market today, they are great examples of single drivers that can "pull" a lot of weight. But sometimes my hands begin to shake, and I just have to reach over and grab a pair of my CIEMs loaded with two hard hitting Knowles CI 2295 and feel the base!

 


 


Your posts have been great, thanks. Could you tell us about some of the issues involved in doing crossovers for your 20 driver ciem?
 

 

post #399 of 467




 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FullCircle View Post

According to the research, foam offers better isolation than custom:

 

@Fullcircle, then that leaves comfort as the reason for getting a custom.

I read that "bone conduction" is another factor. Is this valid?

 

post #400 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

Here's something posted a couple of hours ago by someone who's tried a demo unit of the Unique Melody Merlin (5 Driver Quad Balanced Armature + Dynamic Driver HYBRID). Here's a quote of the last part of the post:

 

"Closing thoughts:

 
Throughout demoing the Merlins for a week and A/B'ing between the IE8's, I gotta say that if the sound were just based off of the demo, I would easily keep my IE8's.  I've spoken to project86 (I'm not sure if it's ok with you to post your statements but let me know and I'll take it out) who owns the v2 version and had the demo for a short period and he told me that he felt the demo didn't sound like it was even worth $500.  However he went on and stated that he DID actually feel like the Merlin v2 fully custom sounds like a $800 custom. 
 
I've never owned a custom so I'm not exactly sure how much of a difference a custom would actually make.  I was going to buy the Merlins right away but I'm very curious on what other people with customs have to say about it first.  The Merlin really showed a lot of promise but I guess we'll have to wait and see if the Merlin's magic is really the one for me."
 
I'm sure when other members get the full custom version of the Merlins, some will say the difference between the Merlins and other top-tier customs is 'night and day'. Others may not.
 
Like I said a number of times already, and solely focusing on SQ -- not taking into account issues such as refits, resale value, cost of ear impressions, shipping costs, long shipping times, etc., all aspects that have to be factored in when considering customs -- it's not a question of whether some think a custom blows other universals out of the water and others don't.
 
The fact is that some people don't seem to hear such dramatic SQ differences (if any at all) and, in some cases, would even favour a universal. Yes, the poster above 'only' tried a demo set of the Merlins, and we recently discussed how a demo unit differs sonically from the full custom version of said demo; some say demos only 'give a taste', others say they get very close to the real thing.


Just an FYI, there is/was a technical issues w/ the UM Merlin demo that I had project86 confirm.  That is the reason I've delayed sending the unit to reviewers till i get a replacement unit which hopefully resolves the issue.  This is a whole other can of worms, not even related to demos versus customs for the most part.  If you want to know more you know where to hit me up.  

 

post #401 of 467

That chart showing customs at -13dB is ridiculous.  That has to be the worst fitting custom ever.  Were they even made his ears or someone elses?  Couldn't read that second graph.  Most acrylics are rated around -26dB and silicone molds > -30dB.  I can tell you my ES5 isolates as good if not better than Ety foams on the ER4S.  Plus a foam tip on a universal does nothing for conduction on the outer ear.  

 

What frequency were they using?  That definitely can have an impact.

post #402 of 467
Quote:
Originally Posted by ru9 View Post

 

@Fullcircle, then that leaves comfort as the reason for getting a custom.

I read that "bone conduction" is another factor. Is this valid?


Did you write off custom tailored driver placement for each ear?  What about greater space for internal components that don't fit any mass produced universal shells?

 

post #403 of 467



     If you look at the chart, you will see an audio gram was performed (base line) and then different hearing protection devices (HPD) were placed in the ear, and another audio gram was performed....   by doing this you get essentially a "frequency sweep" of what the performance level of the various HPDs are at different frequencies. To me this is much more valuable information over "NRR -26dB."

 

You actually bring up a point; "worst fitting custom ever."  If attenuation is determined by "fit" and the fit is different per individual due to manufacturieng processes etc etc, attenuation levels can be all over the place, so an NRR -26 is a fairly safe number to put in print. I mean even if it is an NRR -2dB, that is still below 26!

 

Those graphs were taken out of Industrial Audiology books and if you have a good relationship with your local audiologist, you can run the same experiment on your own CIEMs or your IEMs in order get factual information regarding their attenuation abilities.

 

Those graphs and studieds were performed long before the era of CIEMs, no agenda was there at the time.

 

Regarding bone conduction, I try not to comment on something I have not seen actual data on. But I don't see how this would make a difference. What I mean is, for bone conduction to happen, you have to have vibration. The vibration would be initiated by the BAD. If the BAD vibrates, this will cause an air conducted signal along with (if any) bone conduction vibration....   so either way you slice it, bone conduction or air conduction;  a vibration/sound is made by the CIEM, concurrently.

 

 

NRR2.jpg

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

That chart showing customs at -13dB is ridiculous.  That has to be the worst fitting custom ever.  Were they even made his ears or someone elses?  Couldn't read that second graph.  Most acrylics are rated around -26dB and silicone molds > -30dB.  I can tell you my ES5 isolates as good if not better than Ety foams on the ER4S.  Plus a foam tip on a universal does nothing for conduction on the outer ear.  

 

What frequency were they using?  That definitely can have an impact.



 


Edited by FullCircle - 7/17/11 at 12:31am

Dr. John Moulton

Here at Noble, we craft some of the finest universal and custom in-ear monitors available today. 

post #404 of 467

Sorry was having trouble reading that second graph.  I wasn't referring to bone conduction specifically, that was another poster.  I was referring to having an IEM like the Ety that leave space between the housing and your canal for sound to travel.  Customs block that and a portion of the outer ear that can transmit sound/vibration as well.  One also needs to consider how silicone and vinyl hybrids compare to solid acrylic pieces.  I'm not a fan of full acrylic shells myself for various reasons.

 

Nothing personal at all.  Good post but -13dB is just ridiculous.  I can sit here w/ my SPL meter and tune a source to 25dB, pop in my phones and see if I can hear anything or not.  Pretty easy, not necessarily precise or accurate but good enough to call BS on -13dB.  Yes, customs will vary on isolation, no question.  Same for universals.  Oh well.  Manufacturer specs can be BS as well.  Ety rates their ER4 w/ foam to be -42dB. Ridiculous number as well. 

 

I guess I have a problem w/ people taking you post to mean universal isolate better than customs as a general rule so I just want to balance things out.  Putting a foamy on the SM3 does not have the same affect as an Ety either.  You need deep insertion IME to get the benefits.  

post #405 of 467

Some more information on "Real World Attenuation Values"

 

http://www.freehearingtest.com/nrr.shtml 

Dr. John Moulton

Here at Noble, we craft some of the finest universal and custom in-ear monitors available today. 

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