Thanks for the tip, mark2410b (pun not intended). From your pics and the Amazon link posted earlier, it seems like the (black) foam ones are the "olives" that work well. Do you have any experience with the silicone Shure tips?
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yeah its the black foam things, when you see them they look like little black olives. the shure silicones would work too but may not be comfy and may cause a bit of air pressure and insertion and suction on removal that can cause unpleasantness. the olives really are very much more gontle on the ears and worth the extra pennies.
I received the Shure "olives" today. I got the small black foams from here: http://www.earphonesolutions.com/shpasmblfosl.html
For size reference, I was enjoying the Ety glider tips the best, but their construction and appearance leave a lot to be desired. As mark2410 suggested, the small size olives seem to a very good size equivalent.
Here are the differences I've noticed:
- olives allow for the hf3 to go deeper in my ears than Ety gliders
- olives are a bit more uncomfortable -- maybe because they a bit deeper, maybe because they are trying to expand
- olives are a bit more annoying to insert since you have to compress the foam first
- without a critical A/B, my initial impression is a bit more bass with the olives. These won't make the hf3 into bass monsters though
- olives seem much more durable than gliders and 5 pairs of "olives" for $14 should go a lot further than 3 pairs of gliders for $14
- noise isolation seems about equal. I did A/B test while listening to the football game
I'm going to keep my appointment for custom molds. If I can get something that is as comfortable as the gliders, but with the durability of the foams -- and the same audio performance -- I'll be more than satisfied. Will report back later.
Please do, dweaver. I'm curious about the Ety process and results. Oh, and the sound quality, of course! :)
My previous experience with customs was with (now defunct) Freq. I had to get a second impression for left ear and second shell made due to bad fit. Ultimately got a good result, but was really tedious journey.
I'm also very intrigued by the silicon molds instead of the hard plastic ones from Freq.
Hope they're perfect for you out of the box.
I would very much like to hear your impressions. I am planning to get some for the ER-4 soon.
Went to local audiologist today for impressions. Both he and the receptionist/office manager knew what I was there for and communicated the Etymotic process to me. I was glad I didn't have to explain the types of molds needed or the paperwork I brought.
Comparing against my previous experience getting impressions for Freqs (with a different audiologist), I was surprised the foam stoppers weren't insert as deeply as before (went DEEP last time). I was told after looking in my ears while chewing that I didn't need impressions made with an open mouth, which was different than before. Otherwise, not an eventful visit.
I was given three shipping costs ($13, 23 and 33, I think), and was told choosing the 2-day $23 option would likely cut my wait time in half. So the whole experience, impressions, molds and shipping cost $123.
And so I wait...
I got my hf3 molds last Friday. With the 2-day shipping, my turnaround was exactly one week and one day. Very nice.
All there was in a large UPS puffy envelope was plastic baggie with Microsonic instruction pamphlet and the two molds.
I was initially struck by how small they were. They definitely didn't cover any more than the canal and the opening of said canal. My Freqs extended over the ridge and into the next "valley" of my ears. This extra surface area definitely made it easier to insert and remove than the hf3 molds, as I had something to grab and twist.
Was initially annoyed that there seemed to be no indication which one was for which ear. Eventually I came to realization that RED was RIGHT. Maybe this was obvious...
Inserting the hf3 stems was easy; just push the barrels on until it goes no further. Then you half-insert them in your ear and twist (I was experienced with my Freqs, but the pamphlet describes the procedure as well).
Disappointment: While the left ear fit seemed good, my right ear mold wouldn't seal. No amount of tugging my ear before, during and after insertion would seal. The only way to get the isolation I was hoping for was to push on the mold (toward my brain), but upon letting go, and and sound would rush in.
Realization #1: The custom molds (while pushing on right one) do not isolate any better than the Shure Olives. I sat in a quiet room playing white noise from an app on my phone. I carefully checked with each volume click, and the best-case isolation (with pushing on right mold) with the customs was exactly the same as with Shure Olives, possible one volume click worse.
Realization #2: The clear silicon molds seem to attract all sorts of wax, lint and stuff. I'm not sure it is an improvement in terms of comfort from my plastic Freqs, and it definitely seems like more of an annoyance in terms of upkeep and cleaning.
Realization #3: As mentioned earlier, with such small molds, it's harder to remove from the ear. You kinda have to pull on the hf3 housing and twist.
Sound quality: I did not do any critical listening or comparisons from customs to Olives. I wasn't about to sit and do a lot of listening with my finger pressing on my right ear. What little I did listen do didn't seem dramatically different or surprising. More to come on this...
Today's update: So I called the audiologist's office this morning. The receptionist remembered me and told me she would call me back after conferring with the audiologist. She noted on the phone that I was the first to have had such an issue (not sure if they have a 100% track record, if they don't do many of these, or if I'm super picky). She called back about two hours later and said she had contacted Microsonic. They would remake the right mold and send it directly to me. There was no discussion of making a new impression. "Call back if you have any other problems" was her last sentence.
Net net: So I'm back waiting. Even if the right mold is perfect, I'll probably still wonder if I should have just stuck with the Olives (as was suggested earlier). Knowing how my brain and wallet work, I would have always wondered if I was missing out and would eventually have gotten the customs. And the total price (clearance-priced hf3 and $123 molds) is still more than acceptable. And I'll definitely use them (perhaps more likely then foams at the gym). But I would definitely tell friends and Head-fiers that if the Shure Olives fit and work for you, save the money for something else.
Hope this helps others.
So long story short I am using these on the train ride and when I have time to listen and want the ultimate clarity and detail. For the rest of the time I ended up picking up a pair of Sony MDR-7550 which are pretty much the opposite of these in many ways especially comfort as they are very easy to forget they are there and are very easy to remove and put in when at the office. The Sony also is not as isolating which is a bit better for at work.
For those wondering why I wouldn't just switch between the Shure foams and the custom tips at will. I find both types of tips very exact fitting on the IEM housing and feel that attempting to switch them all the time would be to dangerous to the IEm's. As for just buying another Ety for olives and this one for the custom tips. All I can say I I have been wanting to try the Sony for a while :-). Now I get two very diverse but equally impressive sounds and comfort options.
Am I nuts and way to obsessed with IEM's and headphones? I would have thought all my posts and countless gear I have owned would have made that obvious LOL ;-).
I'll make sure to report back -- there is a slight chance they could be back by Saturday.
And I definitely had fit issues with Freqs years ago, too. I ended up having to get impressions and molds of my left ear made twice (on my nickel, If I remember correctly). In between I tried the nail polish trick (did not work) and other suggestions to making things work. Eventually it all worked out and I was happy with the Freqs for years, but it caused many headaches.
Disappointed to report that my remade molds are a bit better in isolation, but more painful and still not as good as the Shure olives.
Got the 1st class USPS envelope tonight. Was surprised to find both left and right molds since I only needed the right one remade. After the usual fiddling, I could tell that the right ear was a little bit better than before. It seemed like Microsonic just made both molds "bigger." The new left mold quickly grew painful in my ear, and the right wasn't very comfortable.
Worst of all, my music sounded like I was listening with earbuds and/or in a tunnel. There was an odd airiness to the sound.
I may give it a day or two and try the molds again, but as of now, they will not be a part of my listening experience at all.
I don't feel the need to demand satisfaction or a refund, unlike how I felt with my Freqs. It was an experiment that I went into with an open mind and wallet. Maybe I would feel different if it weren't so pleased with the olives.
Again, my advice: skip the customs and spend the $100+ on whatever tips work for you.
Edited by mchang - 2/2/12 at 5:15am
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