I was gonna post a real big, winded, whiz-bang sort of Guide(tm) around these points with carefully crafted illustrations and photos, clever dialog (well you may still get that) and manuals in .PDF format ...
...but then, since it's Friday and I'm drinking and getting ready for my bar tending job, I figured I'd condense it all down into an abbreviated sort of capsule form ... I mean, recognizing the importance of the content and all, the terrible seriousness of these things ...
Anywho ... intros done with ...
The following little tidbits apply to pretty much any Shure IEM that uses the standard Shure tips (and others that work with the Shure IEM's).
What inspired me to author this hasty little diatribe, you might ask?
It is this:
I've read several posts lately by users (much like me, almost) who broke the nozzles on their Shure IEM's (mostly SE530/SE535 owners) while trying to change the tips. Seems the tips were stuck on the nozzles so firmly that when twisting and pulling, said users inadvertently broke the plastic nozzles upon which any chosen tip is installed. Bummer. A real bad feeling that must have been.
I almost did it, myself, but I decided to (not too 7337, I know) phone Shure first and find out if there were any procedures; turns out, there were ... and that Shure was very familiar with The Old Stuck Tip(tm) problem.
Anyway, so that's where we'll begin:
Does the tip seem to be GLUED on to your Shure IEM?
If so? Then, as with any other strained relationship, DON'T FORCE IT!
Rather, (also, oddly, like other strained relationships) ... let things cool first, before doing anything drastic.
Put your Shure IEM's (whatever variant) into the freezer for a good 20 to 25 minutes and then take them out and try the whole "tip removal" process again; amazingly enough, the tip will spin easily! And all it will take is a bit of pulling to slide it off the nozzle. Trust me. I know. My recently shipped, brand new replacement SE530's (a warranty thing) had black olives that were positively GLUED on to the nozzles. I was horrified that I might break the nozzles when attempting to change them and so, before forcing things, I decided to first phone Shure's earphone Dept.; and, the kind woman ("Max") who happened to receive my call, informed me of the above process (the freezer bit). And yes, it worked like a magic trick!
Max went on to inform me that when undergoing dramatic temperature changes (hot to cold, etc.), that plastic surfaces which contact each other will sometimes under go a form of "migration" (her term), wherein one surface slightly joins/adheres with another ... and that all that is needed to separate them is a simple contraction of the materials via application of extreme cold.
Seems she was exactly right. (Honestly, I felt somewhat more educated after that call).
Re: "Olives" and Yellow Foamies and Westone Complys
These things last a lot longer than you might think.
All three of the above mentioned tips are my fav tips and the only tips I use with my SE530's. They are all slightly different but (to my ear anyway) much better than any of the silicone variants.
But, they are indeed sort of pricey if you have to go buying them every three months after one set gets encrusted with ear wax, dirt and various debris from ones daily work and travels.
And, again ... they *do* soil rather quickly.
But never fear! Palmolive is here! You read me right. Palmolive. Or, any other common dish washing liquid (I prefer anti-bacterial!) for that matter.
If any of your "squishy" tips get dirty? Just wash them with a generous amount of dish washing liquid and flowing water. Personally, I generally spend about a minute per tip, saturating it with water and dish washing liquid, plying it between my fingers, squishing out the dirt then soaking it back up with water, repeating the process with more soap, (much like shampooing, actually) ... until after any given rinse, the tip appears clean/new.
It really works.
I have a single ten pack of yellow foamies and a three pack of Westone Complys that I have been using for over a year now and they are as good today as they were when purchased. I've dirtied them and washed them at least six or seven times. And, I don't foresee having to spend money on tips again for at least another year or more.
Here's a pic (yes, these are 1.5 year old tips; used daily all that time; washed at least seven times throughout).
Re: "Olives" and Yellow Foamies and Westone Complys (PART 2)
Continuing on the "foamie"/comply/generally "squishy" tip path ...
Did you know that these things act in much the same manner (and in practice) as standard, industrial ear plugs?
OSHA(tm) isn't too concerned about this, but I am. They really do perform the same way ... and they work almost as good (but first let me get to my reason for posting this bit of tripe) ...
Reason being, a few of my local pals who have purchased Shure IEM's have asked me (and with much fervor): "Hey dude! Did you know you can simply shove these foamies into your ear, all the while twisting the ear phone back and forth for a better seat? Wow! It works great!" ...
And I say, ...
"No. Chode. I didn't know that. But hey! You wanna know how they really work?"
At which point I explain that these tips first need to be rolled "flat" between thumb and forefinger and then, quite quickly, inserted into the ear canal and held there until they have expanded and thereby "form fitted" themselves to ones ear (I find that pulling up on my upper ear, while inserting, vastly increases the depth that I can get the squished cylinder into and thereby vastly increases the seal of these "squishy" variants).
I apologize. No. I don't assume you folks are ignorant. Just that certain of my dear and local IEM wearing pals are (you know who you are!).
But seriously (consider it a mantra): "Squish em, insert em, hold em while they expand (pull up on the upper ear?) and then enjoy some serious isolation."
I really can't think of a more appropriate Instruction Manual(tm) for the proper use of "squishy" tips with Shure IEM's than the following (sort of cute), illustrated guide for how to use disposable industrial ear plugs; honestly, it's the very same thing: http://www.abcsafetymart.com/earplugs/fitting.html
SE530/SE535's: Want even better sound stage? Even better highs? More accurate bass?
This may just be mysticism on my part ... but I swear I can hear the difference.
Anyway, I mentioned this way back in a SE530 review post I did once. And I still find it true...
For whatever weird reason, only pushing your given "squishy" tip (olives, yellow foamies, complys, etc.) up to the notch on the nozzle, not past, yields some pretty interesting sonic results over the standard tip mounting method (IE shoving the thing all the way up to the main IEM housing):
Here's a pic of what I'm talking about:
Color me placebic if you like ... but oddly enough, this little bit of difference does indeed affect things noticeably.
The above pic is showing the mod with the yellow foamies but I've found the same gains to be true whether using the yellow foamies, the black olives or the complys (my only daily use tips, btw).
The soundstage is improved/widened, the bass becomes a bit tighter, more accurate and natural (while losing a bit of it's forwardness) and best of all, the highs become much less "rolled off" ... as I mentioned in a certain SE530 review I once did, I can't explain this and nor do I care to try.
I just dig it.
Try it. You'll like it.
(That's it for now ... I have several more rather obvious tips and suggestions banging around in my head but they need time to mature and I need time to get ready for work; I will add them in an ongoing fashion. So, until next time, kiddies!)
Edited by s1rrah - 9/24/10 at 8:28pm