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Expensive universal IEMs or cheaper custom IEMs?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I currently have a pair of UE700's and am thinking of upgrading in the relative future. One question that's sort of caught me is whether to go with a high-end universal-fit IEM or spend about the same, maybe a bit more, for a low-end custom-fit IEM.


For example, the Shure SE535's will run you around $500 and you can get something like the JH Audio JH5 Pro for $400 plus the cost of the molds. That brings the price to about the same.


So what about sound quality? Single high and single low driver in the customs, dual high and single low drivers in the universal-fits. Isolation is supposed to be better in customs as well and I've heard pretty good things about the fit.


What do you guys thing? Sound quality wise, would they be pretty similar? Would one be noticeably better than the other?


Also, as a follow-up, I've heard custom IEMs need to be remolded every so often since your ears never stop growing. However, I'm not sure how often... Is it yearly, every two years? Every ten? Every few months? Also, I'm not sure how much that even costs. I don't mind paying a bit more on that end since the way I see it I'm replacing foam sleeves every few month and those cost $15 for a pack. Yeah, not quite the same price I'm sure but over a few years it can add up and that, in some small way, helps justify it if the sound is better.

post #2 of 6

As for refits in the future I think it depends. One thing that can affect it is if you gain weight or not and where the weight goes. I know some people here with the same custom for more than a couple of years so it varies.


As for your question I would go with the custom. I have the 1964 Ears 1964-T as my entry level custom which is $350 not including impressions, shipping, etc. and to my ears no universal can match or surpass it on sound quality alone. Some universals come close such as the Westone 4 but it falls a bit short.


However keep in mind that it is difficult to audition customs and even then you don't know how close it is to a custom. You also lose resell value since with cheap customs it is harder to sell and the price you can get off them drops to under 50% of MSRP.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm actually not that worried about resell. Even if I bought an entry-level custom IEM and then a few years later upgraded, I'd likely keep the originals if for no other reason than a backup model.


Or, hell, have new impressions made and give them to a girlfriend or something.

post #4 of 6

You could always get the UE700 reshelled and with an additional driver. Unique Melody charges about $270 for the reshell and additional driver. The result will be a 3 driver custom with a 3 way crossover. I got it done with my Super Fi 5 Pro and I'm very satisfied with the results. Just a suggestion.

post #5 of 6

Well in that case I would do some research on various cheaper customs such as the JH5, UE4pro, Westone AC2, 1964 Ears 1964-T, etc.


You just have to find your preferences assuming you know what they are. Also one thing that you may encounter is the need for multiple refits such as I have or you may get lucky and have it fit on one try. However if you live in the USA then it shouldn't be a big issue as most of the cheaper customs are made by companies in the USA.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Right now the JH5 and The 1964-T are the top of my list. The 1964-T is a bit cheaper and has three drivers where the JH5 only has two... I'm going to do some more research about the differences in sound but I'd like to hear any personal experiences with either or both that anyone has. I haven't checked out the Westones just yet. I was looking at the UE4 Pro's but I'm not as impressed by the specs in the same way I am by the JH and 1964 IEMs.


Right now, I'm thinking the 1964-T might be the perfect introduction to custom IEMs.


Though, I have to say Rip N' Burn's suggestion of re-shelling my UE700's is a very interesting idea as well. Going to have to look into that a bit more. I quite like the sound of these but I wish the bass was just a little stronger.

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