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Thinking of going the Custom IEM route... Any advice??

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I am thinking I may invest in some good custom IEMs soon. However, I have done very little research and I don't know what is the best bang for your buck. I am looking to probably spend no more than $1000 with ear impressions included. I guess, I just want to buy a set of customs and be done with it. One good set, and have them last me a decade. No upgrading down the line.


So, that has taken me to the Westone ES5. I read a few reviews about the product, and I like what I have seen. However, what concerns me most is the sound signature. Currently, I am using Shure se530 IEMs. I really like them a lot. The do not fatigue me in the least, and I believe that is because they aren't terribly "bright." Anyways, I am looking for a custom IEM with a similar sound signature to the se530s, however, I wouldn't mind haven't a little more treble sparkle.


These are what I am looking for:


1. Deep and wide soundstage.

2. Forward mids

3. Clear highs that create a transparency to the sound, and some sparkle. Just liquid and smooth.

4. Ample bass, but nothing too brain rattling. (I want to hear it, and I want it to be thick and lush, but not bloated).

5. Comfortable of course.

6. Sturdy detachable cable.


As far as music goes, I like a bit of everything. I find myself listening to lossless from my iPod classic, or 320kbps mp3s. I would be hooking the IEMs up to an Ibasso D4 amp connected via a LOD to my iPod.


I listen to a lot of different types of music. Here is a sampling...


Indie rock - Built to Spill, Pinback, Spoon, Sparklehorse

Jam Bands - Phish, Grateful Dead, Jazz is Dead

Electronic - Daft Punk, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada

Post Rock - Do Make Say Think, Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai

Rock - Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Black Keys

Jazz - John Scofield, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, T. Monk



Other brand/model ideas.


UE or JH Audio or Westone or ...

post #2 of 10

I havent actually owned any, but from impressions and reading the UE series are the most common and get consistently great reviews.

post #3 of 10

How about saving a wad of cash and just getting the shures reshelled if you like the signature?

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by davidcotton View Post

How about saving a wad of cash and just getting the shures reshelled if you like the signature?

Yeah, I was reading about that... I could get them reshelled by Fisher audio for like $100, but then, I feel like I cannot resell the se530 if I ever wanted to. Plus, is the reshelling of the IEMs going to change their sound sig?

post #5 of 10
I own the JH-13. I listen to almost everything you do, and I can say with 100% certainty that they are the best purchase I have ever made, audio or otherwise.
I have felt zero urge to upgrade or even fathom it. I bought a few different amps and dac’s to try out with them from portable to desktop, but sold them all because the JH-13 plugged into my iPhone is how I listen 99% of my time. That doesn’t mean they don’t scale like a mother, they do, I just don’t need them to, at the moment. When I want to go with a total desktop set-up they will be able to do that as well. Currently, I use them everywhere I go. When I commute to work, when I’m at work, at the gym, or lying in bed and they are flawless. If you have patience, JH Audio sometimes puts them on sale via website, facebook and/or twitter. That’s how I ordered mine, I got lucky, was researching for a while on here and bang, they went on sale for 1 day or 5 hours or whatever it was. With impressions, they were less than a grand. Best money I ever spent. Good luck in your research.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

thanks everyone for all the input, please keep it coming.

post #7 of 10

just set your price range, and go for a well-reviewed one in that range. custom IEMs from these three makers are well worth it, you won't look back

post #8 of 10
Originally Posted by DrHouse View Post

from impressions and reading the UE series are the most common

Bear in mind that UE has been at this the longest out of all the companies; that doesn't guarantee their popularity, but it does help explain it. Therefore, don't be too quick to assume that UE customs' popularity is a clear indication of their superiority.


OP: if you're worried about fatiguing highs, you might want to consider the material(s) used. Customs can be made with acrylic, silicon, or a mixture of the 2. General impressions people tend to have about silicon is that it smooths the highs--although this should not be taken as an indication that acrylic will definitely be harsh.


Pure acrylic: UE (most models), JH, Unique Melody

Pure silicon: UE RM (upon request), ACS

Hybrid: Westone

Edited by Eric_C - 3/1/11 at 9:06pm
post #9 of 10

There are plenty of threads on here about customs you can choose, and I have a thread here that lists just about every manufacturer with prices.  It is still a work in progress, but my goal is to help answer questions like yours.


If you did go the reshell route, Adam from Kozee Sound Solutions says he matches the frequency response before and after the reshell as well as keeps the driver angles and tube lengths the same, so the sound should be very similar to the original.  I have a reshelled TF10, which I will be comparing with a stock TF10 and an Infinity X3 that will hopefully be on the way.


You might want to read up on the 1964-T as it sounds, from your description, like it might be a good fit from what I have read.

Edited by average_joe - 3/1/11 at 9:38pm
post #10 of 10

Your product specification is a good description of the Sensaphonics 2X-S, or perhaps the 2MAX. Both are dual-driver 2-ways designed for neutral, reference standard reproduction (same sound signature, different sensitivity). They feature all-silicone earpieces, maximizing both comfort and isolation. Both fit your price range.


Aloo, there's another option for your 530 beyond reshelling.  You can upgrade your Shure to custom with silicone sleeves from Sensaphonics. Provides virtually all the benefits of a custom fit, and those of soft-gel silicone. Cost is $150, and it keeps your 530s completely resellable.


Sensaphonics works primarily in the touring sound space, but here's a good review of the 2MAX from audiophile world:



Same guy, Chris Martens, reviewed other high-end customs as well. Good luck in your search, zdkaiser.



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