This is an unusual request for assistance in selecting a custom iem, and I was tempted just to send a pm to Average Joe, but just in case someone else has some degree of discomfort with wiring as it exits and loops around the ear, I'll ask publicly. I don't want to be overly dramatic, but this is nearly a life or death issue for me. As background, I have a rare disease known as Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). It is pretty widely acknowledged to be the most painful condition known, with excruciating electric shocks and sharp stabs traveling along various nerves in the forehead and face, as well as other unpleasantries. If you google its informal name, "the suicide disease," TN is what will come up. Those like me who are further unlucky have type 2 TN which is defined by adding to the pain already described a constant, unrelenting nerve pain that is "only" as intense as a migraine.
For the last 4 1/2 years, listening to music has kept me sane. Giving the mind something else to concentrate on beside the pain signals constantly going off is a survival issue. And of course the "activity" needs to be passive. I can and do listen to music out loud, but I can't always hog the media room and perhaps more importantly, I need music to help me get to sleep. And thus my current problem. Different people have different "triggers" that can set off an attack of the sharper intermittent pain. Until recently, the area around my ears has not been a trigger zone and I've been able to use my UM3X for hours of comfortable listeneing. Unfortunately, now the area on the scalp under the protruding ear, especially at the top, has become sensitive. The area where the plastic covers the stock cord on the Westones is making them set off attacks and worsening the constant pain I experience.
So, at last, after all the self-indulgence, my questions: As you have evaluated CIEMs, have you noted any that are flush in the ear (or even recessed a bit) more than others? Can you remember any that have a more comfortable, softer or more pliable cord than others (particularly perhaps ones where the connection to the monitor is recessed so that it is only cord emerging)? Is there a particular company where you have a feeling they would work with me on further customizing their custom to accommodate my issues?
Not to be too greedy, but it would also be nice to have a choice with my preferred sound signature, which I think I can best describe by improving on what I like about the Westone UM3X. I like the fullness of the bass, but believe the Westone roll off a little too early, leaving that rumble the tiniest bit wanting. I guess a tad quicker in the bass wouldn't hurt, but not at expense of quantity, which is just right for me. I like the forward nature of the mids, and their warm, smooth nature. Especially fond of the fact that the midrange sounds dead even across its spectrum to my ears. Like the bass, I would sacrifice an iota of warmth and thickness of note for more transparency and instrument separation. But just an iota. In terms of treble, I am completely in agreement with ljokerl about liking the detail and non-fatiguing nature, but would like perhaps a tad more sparkle; not, however, at the expense of the ability to listen for long sessions. I'm not bothered, as some are, by the intimacy of the soundstage.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions you all may have.