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Must wear IEMs all day. Suggestions for good sound isolation, comfortable, cheap customs?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm a long-time lurker here, and have learned a ton by reading these forums.  I'm looking for a recommendation for a kind-of unusual situation. 

 

I'm an artist (visual, though I work with sound some too).  I'm going to have somebody moving in above my studio who watches TV all the time at high volume.  There are just creaky wood floors between us and I need to have control over what I'm hearing to concentrate on my work.  I want to get some custom IEMs to wear all day in my studio.

 

So, while I appreciate and want good sound quality, comfort and sound isolation are my primary needs.  My budget really doesn't go above $300 for them.  I know that's not a lot for customs, but looking at some of the mega-threads on custom IEMs, it looks like there are a handful (from Alien Ears, Westone, Kozee, Clear Tone Monitors, Fidelity, 1964, maybe others). 

 

I have only had universal fit IEMs, so I am hoping others can help me figure out what to get.  I like the fact that Westone has a background with hearing aids and relationships with lots of audiologists (here in Grand Rapids, MI, USA there aren't audiologists on the lists recommended by other manufacturers).  I'd like detachable cables for ease of replacement since these will be getting tons of use.

 

I will obviously be listening to music too, and I do care about sound quality, but I figure that at this price range, everything will sound pretty decent, and I'll probably be driving it with an MP3 player anyway (ipod touch, sansa clip+).  If I should be thinking about differences in sound quality among these lower-end custom IEMs, let me know your thoughts on that too.  (listening would be mostly electronic, ambient, some classical, occasionally hip-hop, folk, etc.  I'll probably also use them for mixing audio for sound work.)

 

So, what are your thoughts?  What IEMs could I wear all day comfortably that would block out the sounds of walking and loud TV above me and provide decent sound quality?

 

Thanks!


Edited by respiraahora - 6/23/11 at 4:51pm
post #2 of 16

if only using ipod touch with lossy compression universal iem should do good. shure 215 is good entry, westone 4/shure 535 should good for higher universal iem. custom iem will never cheap as the cost of molding and getting ear impression itself is costly enough

post #3 of 16

I like Sennheiser CX300-IIs, but they are a tad bit heavy on bass. The original CX-300s, which I also have, are almost pure bass.

 

If you are going to be wearing them all day, you might consider some CX-270s or CX-200s, which are cheaper and a little bit more balanced. Cheap as in like $15-20, and the all sound very good for the price.

 

Especially with a source like a iPod, using high quality buds will be helpful, but not as important.

post #4 of 16

If isolation is your primary concern, then it sounds like you're going to be looking for something with deep insertion. I've read that the Etymotic triple flanges are very good for that, but haven't tried them myself. You can find the HF5 for ~$100 right now, on sale.

 

If you're set on customs, I recommend taking a look through average_joe's custom resource thread, particularly the bit on manufacturers. For under $300, your best bet's would probably be the 1964 S/D, Westone AC1 (I've read good things about the AC2, not sure about the AC1), or Kozee. Alternatively, you could take your pick of universal, and get it reshelled as a custom. Note, for reference, that all accounts indicate that silicone shells are a fair bit more isolating than the acrylic ones. They normally cost a little more, and don't have detachable cables. But you could go to the extreme end, and get the Kozee X1 for $140, including the free impression kit (otherwise impressions might cost extra), if you're pressed for cash. I haven't read any reviews of them, though, so the sound quality is unclear.

 

If time is a factor, you might want to take that into account, since different manufacturers have different turn-around speeds.

 

Hope that helps.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fortheus View Post

if only using ipod touch with lossy compression universal iem should do good. shure 215 is good entry, westone 4/shure 535 should good for higher universal iem. custom iem will never cheap as the cost of molding and getting ear impression itself is costly enough



Thanks fortheus.  I already have a few pairs of universal IEMs and, while the sound quality is acceptable, they hurt my ears after hours of use.  What I'm looking for is decent sound quality and fantastic comfort with good isolation.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks benjistein. 

If I were to rank my priorities they would be

1. comfort, because I will have to keep them in for hours and hours at a time

2. isolation

3. sound quality.

 

This doesn't mean that I don't care about sound quality.  While much of my music is ripped using lossy compression, the mp3s are ripped at 256 - 320 kbps and I do have a decent amount of uncompressed/losslessly compressed music.

 

I've worn Shure's triple flanges with the IEMs I currently have and they hurt after a while, but thanks for the suggestion.  I haven't tried any universal IEMs that don't hurt my ears after 4 or 5 hours, which is why I want to go with customs.

 

You write "all accounts indicate that silicone shells are a fair bit more isolating than the acrylic ones".   This is clearly because the hard acrylic transmits the sound through the material.  Can anybody compare the sound isolation of an acrylic custom to a single-flange universal to give me an idea?

 

I think I'm leaning toward the Kozee Infinity X1 with the "executive" upgrade to get the detachable cable.  The massive IEM review/comparison thread has a review of them that is quite positive and with their low cost I could get professional impressions made by an audiologist to ensure optimal fit.  But I'm tempted by something silicone for comfort, like the Clear Tune Monitors CTMs. 

 

Is it easier to wear silicone customs for long periods than acrylic?

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by benjistein View Post

If isolation is your primary concern, then it sounds like you're going to be looking for something with deep insertion. I've read that the Etymotic triple flanges are very good for that, but haven't tried them myself. You can find the HF5 for ~$100 right now, on sale.

 

If you're set on customs, I recommend taking a look through average_joe's custom resource thread, particularly the bit on manufacturers. For under $300, your best bet's would probably be the 1964 S/D, Westone AC1 (I've read good things about the AC2, not sure about the AC1), or Kozee. Alternatively, you could take your pick of universal, and get it reshelled as a custom. Note, for reference, that all accounts indicate that silicone shells are a fair bit more isolating than the acrylic ones. They normally cost a little more, and don't have detachable cables. But you could go to the extreme end, and get the Kozee X1 for $140, including the free impression kit (otherwise impressions might cost extra), if you're pressed for cash. I haven't read any reviews of them, though, so the sound quality is unclear.

 

If time is a factor, you might want to take that into account, since different manufacturers have different turn-around speeds.

 

Hope that helps.


 

 

post #7 of 16

I just slagged on the Klipsch Image X5 (fragile to the nth degree, microphonic, static electricity conducting) in another thread, but if these are being used purely indoors and won't be expected to do much/any outside duty, I'd recommend them as they isolate noise very well, are extremely comfortable, and sound amazing.

post #8 of 16

Check out this thread for some interesting discussion about silicone vs acrylic (you can also find a few other threads if you search, but that was the best, IMHO).  The consensus seems to be that acrylic is ~26 dB, and silicone is closer to 30-35. All materials will transmit sound through them, the differences have to do with the kinds of material, whether they're hollow, etc. I'm not certain about single-flange IEMs, as it's much harder to find proper statistics as it will vary more per person, I'd say probably closer to 10-20 dB (http://earplugstore.com/inearspecs.htm), depending on foam or silicone. 

 

Silicone is supposed to be a little more difficult to insert, but is softer, less dependent on a perfect fit, and less prone to seal breaking. Refits are more troublesome, but the latter two factors mitigate that. On the other hand, detachable cables are a lot harder to haveThe - the only company I'm aware of that does it is Sensaphonics, but they're out of your price range.

 

There are some models of Customs that do an acrylic shell with silicone tips, but bonding the two materials is tricky, and I'm not sure where the isolation falls on the spectrum. And, I think you options are again reduced in your price range.
 

I've not heard of Clear Tune Monitors (I learn something new every time I look at average_joe's thread), and I can't find any reviews of the CTM on head-fi (you could be the first!). Their pictures make them look more like acrylic than silicone, but I'd recommend emailing them to be sure.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by respiraahora View Post

Thanks benjistein. 

If I were to rank my priorities they would be

1. comfort, because I will have to keep them in for hours and hours at a time

2. isolation

3. sound quality.

 

This doesn't mean that I don't care about sound quality.  While much of my music is ripped using lossy compression, the mp3s are ripped at 256 - 320 kbps and I do have a decent amount of uncompressed/losslessly compressed music.

 

I've worn Shure's triple flanges with the IEMs I currently have and they hurt after a while, but thanks for the suggestion.  I haven't tried any universal IEMs that don't hurt my ears after 4 or 5 hours, which is why I want to go with customs.

 

You write "all accounts indicate that silicone shells are a fair bit more isolating than the acrylic ones".   This is clearly because the hard acrylic transmits the sound through the material.  Can anybody compare the sound isolation of an acrylic custom to a single-flange universal to give me an idea?

 

I think I'm leaning toward the Kozee Infinity X1 with the "executive" upgrade to get the detachable cable.  The massive IEM review/comparison thread has a review of them that is quite positive and with their low cost I could get professional impressions made by an audiologist to ensure optimal fit.  But I'm tempted by something silicone for comfort, like the Clear Tune Monitors CTMs. 

 

Is it easier to wear silicone customs for long periods than acrylic?

 

 

post #9 of 16

Get a pair of triple fi 10 for like 100 to 150 usd and get it remould ,proberly the best sound quaility of customs you'll get under  300usd.

post #10 of 16

Have a word with your neighbour about turning the volume down a bit, or look into soundproofing the room.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidcotton View Post

Have a word with your neighbour about turning the volume down a bit, or look into soundproofing the room.


I've thought about soundproofing, but it's way too expensive.  The neighbor is an older woman with Alzheimer's.  The TV helps her feel calm and comfortable, and she'd probably forget that I want it quiet even if she could hear it quiet.

 

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

Benjistein,

Thanks for the good info and links.  It seems like silicone might be best for me (for comfort and isolation), but I like the idea of detachable cord and those two aren't available together within my budget.  Maybe I'll get in touch with Kozee and see what they have to say.

post #13 of 16

Quote:

Originally Posted by JCS View Post

I just slagged on the Klipsch Image X5 (fragile to the nth degree, microphonic, static electricity conducting) in another thread, but if these are being used purely indoors and won't be expected to do much/any outside duty, I'd recommend them as they isolate noise very well, are extremely comfortable, and sound amazing.


Ditto for the Klipsch X10s.  I use them with a Nano 6 and RSA Shadow at the gym which, as you can imagine is really noisy and they, with their silicone tips are so comfortable and amazingly isolate well.  In addition, I find the bass on the X10s to be amazing given their size.  I use JH Audio Pro13s which have a remarkable bass sound and I must say that there are times when the X10s amaze me about the bass they produce....not quite the same as the JH13s, but still very acceptable.

 

post #14 of 16

I thought OP said customs? why is everyone recommending universal iems?

 I am currrently in the same boat as you, I am considering the 1964 ears, JH audio a few others, but if I like the UM merlin enough to justify for the cost, I will jump to it.

post #15 of 16
max budget of 300$ . Ill get the 1964 S. Or the Infinity 1
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