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Anyone young that have experience with custom IEM?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

I'm 16 right now and I've been considering custom IEMs for a while now, however I am afraid I might have to get a refit/remold every year or so. Does anyone have experience or have knowledge with ear growth, IEM fit, etc.?

post #2 of 29

Your body should still be growing and changing until you hit your early 20's or so, so I am pretty sure you would be better off getting some universal's for now (unless you want to do re-fits every other year or so).

post #3 of 29

I think that human ears change all the time and they never really "set".

Of course, this I cannot prove. I just read this in some papers...

post #4 of 29

I am not sure about this one, but as you grow your ear canals will change.  How fast is anyone's question, but I agree that universals are probably the best for now.  You probably want to call a few audiologists and see what they say.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3602 View Post

I think that human ears change all the time and they never really "set".

Of course, this I cannot prove. I just read this in some papers...


You can check in the 2nd post in my custom IEM review/resource thread for answers from 2 audiologists.  It is a ways down in that post.

 

post #5 of 29

Ah... Well, none of my local audiologists have experience molding ears for the specific purpose of getting custom IEMs so. None of them know that such a thing exists.

What I do know is that my grandfather needs to have his hearing-aids refit every two years.

post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by FearSC549 View Post

I'm 16 right now and I've been considering custom IEMs for a while now, however I am afraid I might have to get a refit/remold every year or so. Does anyone have experience or have knowledge with ear growth, IEM fit, etc.?


You're in Southern California, according to your location information.  One of the posters recommended asking an audiologist and another pointed out that none in his area had even heard of custom IEMs.  I'm 51 and own lots of headphones and IEMs, including a custom job that some consider the best currently made.  I'll try to give you some advice and you can take or leave it as you wish.

 

First, the poster who recommended asking an audiologist is absolutely correct.

 

Second, the poster who pointed out that many audiologists don't even know what an IEM is, is also correct.

 

Third, therefore, you need to find an audiologist who knows about IEMs.  Because you're in Southern California, you should have all the resources you need locally.

 

Fourth, go to the websites of one or two of the major IEM makers and look up audiologists in your area who they recommend as having experience with custom moldings and IEMs.  They should know the issues about the use of IEMs by young people.  There are others, but two top companies in the IEM field are JH Audio and Westone.  I own the JH-16 Pro.  It fits me like a glove in each ear, which are different from each other in structure as is obvious by looking at the finished product.  My right ear canal takes a sharp turn upward while my left canal is practically straight.  Now I know why the left earpiece of off the shelf models often fell out and the right earpiece had trouble staying in.  With my JH, both fit perfectly and I can wear them for hours without fatigue.

 

Fifth, it should cost between $50-$200 to get the fitting, depending on location and audiologist.  The actual fitting takes just a few minutes but you only get one mold and you have to send it to the company.  You don't get it back after your unit is made in case there is any trouble with your fit (very unlikely - these companies know what they're doing).

 

Sixth, young ears are especially sensitive to damage from IEMs.  Custom IEMs lock in the music and have many drivers, including good bass drivers.  That may "sound" good now but, if you're not careful, you can cause permanent hearing damage.  I'm not telling you this to ruin your party.  Deafness runs in my family.  When I was growing up, I remember many of my father's relatives always yelling at each other.  They were all hard of hearing.  That was congenital but whether your hearing loss is congenital or environmental, it amounts to the same thing.  Losing your hearing really sucks.

 

Seventh, if you're intending to use the IEMs while exercising or otherwise engaged in athletics, study the issues first.  There's growing evidence that whatever hearing damage IEMs do to young ears (adult ears, too), is made worse when used during strenuous activities.  But it always seems to be more dangerous for young people versus older people, though.  I don't know why this is but I've read it in sources that I think are reliable.

 

Eighth, the best IEMs, in the opinion of a middle-aged guy who owns top IEMs, top headphones and fine speakers (not the best of the best $50-100K+ but still "reference quality"), is that the best IEMs are not as good as the best full-sized headphones in sound reproduction, which are themselves a totally different experience versus fine speakers (not necessarily better or worse but definitely different).  As good as my JH-16 Pro is, and most people would rank it among the very top of the top, I don't consider it, for my tastes, anywhere near the sound experience of my Audeze LCD2 or other comparable headphones.  In other words, the best IEMs, if you decide to go that route, are lots of money and you might consider instead a full-sized headphone, which could cost about the same and give you more enjoyment.  Also, if you find out that your ears are changing, that will never be an issue with a full-sized headphone so long as your head never becomes too big (literally and figuratively).  As with all other opinions, YMMV.

 

Ninth, if you decide to go the off-the-shelf route, consider the Shure SE535.  Many consider it at the top of the non-custom heap.  I have one and think it's great sounding (for an IEM).  Unfortunately, because of the shape of my ear canals, I find it uncomfortable to wear for long periods.  Most people don't have that problem.  Sound quality is tops and it costs about 1/2 or less as much as the best from Westone (ES5) or JH Audio (JH-16 Pro).  Klipsch makes a couple of fine off-the-shelf units too.  One is the X10 (their top of the line) and another is the S5 (very good value).  Klipsch also has a "ruggedized" S5 if you expect to treat it roughly.  Add an "i" to the model number of these Klipsch IEMs and you have a unit with a volume, repeat and skip control in the wire for your Apple iwhatever. 

 

Tenth, that's it.  Good luck and I hope you have many years of music enjoyment.  Enjoying good music is one of the finest things you can do in life until the very end (so long as you don't become deaf).

 


Edited by ricmiclaw - 7/2/11 at 9:22pm
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ricmiclaw View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by FearSC549 View Post

I'm 16 right now and I've been considering custom IEMs for a while now, however I am afraid I might have to get a refit/remold every year or so. Does anyone have experience or have knowledge with ear growth, IEM fit, etc.?


You're in Southern California, according to your location information.  One of the posters recommended asking an audiologist and another pointed out that none in his area had even heard of custom IEMs.  I'm 51 and own lots of headphones and IEMs, including a custom job that some consider the best currently made.  I'll try to give you some advice and you can take or leave it as you wish.

 

First, the poster who recommended asking an audiologist is absolutely correct.

 

Second, the poster who pointed out that many audiologists don't even know what an IEM is, is also correct.

 

Third, therefore, you need to find an audiologist who knows about IEMs.  Because you're in Southern California, you should have all the resources you need locally.

 

Fourth, go to the websites of one or two of the major IEM makers and look up audiologists in your area who they recommend as having experience with custom moldings and IEMs.  They should know the issues about the use of IEMs by young people.  There are others, but two top companies in the IEM field are JH Audio and Westone.  I own the JH-16 Pro.  It fits me like a glove in each ear, which are different from each other in structure as is obvious by looking at the finished product.  My right ear canal takes a sharp turn upward while my left canal is practically straight.  Now I know why the left earpiece of off the shelf models often fell out and the right earpiece had trouble staying in.  With my JH, both fit perfectly and I can wear them for hours without fatigue.

 

Fifth, it should cost between $50-$200 to get the fitting, depending on location and audiologist.  The actual fitting takes just a few minutes but you only get one mold and you have to send it to the company.  You don't get it back after your unit is made in case there is any trouble with your fit (very unlikely - these companies know what they're doing).

 

Sixth, young ears are especially sensitive to damage from IEMs.  Custom IEMs lock in the music and have many drivers, including good bass drivers (mine has 16 drivers for each ear).  That may "sound" good now but, if you're not careful, you can cause permanent hearing damage.  I'm not telling you this to ruin your party.  Deafness runs in my family.  When I was growing up, I remember many of my father's relatives always yelling at each other.  They were all hard of hearing.  That was congenital but whether your hearing loss is congenital or environmental, it amounts to the same thing.  Losing your hearing really sucks.

 

Seventh, if you're intending to use the IEMs while exercising or otherwise engaged in athletics, study the issues first.  There's growing evidence that whatever hearing damage IEMs do to young ears (adult ears, too), is made worse when used during strenuous activities.  But it always seems to be more dangerous for young people versus older people, though.  I don't know why this is but I've read it in sources that I think are reliable.

 

Eighth, the best IEMs, in the opinion of a middle-aged guy who owns top IEMs, top headphones and fine speakers (not the best of the best $50-100K+ but still "reference quality"), is that the best IEMs are not as good as the best full-sized headphones in sound reproduction, which are themselves a totally different experience versus fine speakers (not necessarily better or worse but definitely different).  As good as my JH-16 Pro is, and most people would rank it among the very top of the top, I don't consider it, for my tastes, anywhere near the sound experience of my Audeze LCD2 or other comparable headphones.  In other words, the best IEMs, if you decide to go that route, are lots of money and you might consider instead a full-sized headphone, which could cost about the same and give you more enjoyment.  Also, if you find out that your ears are changing, that will never be an issue with a full-sized headphone so long as your head never becomes too big (literally and figuratively).  As with all other opinions, YMMV.

 

Ninth, if you decide to go the off-the-shelf route, consider the Shure SE535.  Many consider it at the top of the non-custom heap.  I have one and think it's great sounding (for an IEM).  Unfortunately, because of the shape of my ear canals, I find it uncomfortable to wear for long periods.  Most people don't have that problem.  Sound quality is tops and it costs about 1/2 or less as much as the best from Westone (ES5) or JH Audio (JH-16 Pro).  Klipsch makes a couple of fine off-the-shelf units too.  One is the X10 (their top of the line) and another is the S5 (very good value).  Klipsch also has a "ruggedized" S5 if you expect to treat it roughly.  Add an "i" to the model number of these Klipsch IEMs and you have a unit with a volume, repeat and skip control in the wire for your Apple iwhatever. 

 

Tenth, that's it.  Good luck and I hope you have many years of music enjoyment.  Enjoying good music is one of the finest things you can do in life until the very end (so long as you don't become deaf).

 


Thank you for the long reply and advice. I think you've changed my mind about custom IEMs, mainly because of maintenance(possible reshell/refit every other year or so) and price. The reason I thought of getting customs is because I felt like I reached the summit of universal IEMs (currently own AT CK10, Fischer DBA-02, UE TF10, previously owned ER-4P/S, MTPC, MTPG) and average_joe mentioned how nearly every pair of his customs are more sonically superior to the top universals. I listen to music at an adequate level and rarely turn the volume up too high because I really fear losing my hearing at a younger age, and I've read how IEMs can damage hearing (especially young people) because they're inserted into your ear canal, which affects how sound originally travel to the ear(from the outer ear to the middle, then to the eardrum). I think I will most likely approach the headphone route since I only have mid-end cans such as HD650 and MDR-F1, and I don't feel like I'm getting tired of this hobby yet. 

 

post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by FearSC549 View Post




Thank you for the long reply and advice. I think you've changed my mind about custom IEMs, mainly because of maintenance(possible reshell/refit every other year or so) and price. The reason I thought of getting customs is because I felt like I reached the summit of universal IEMs (currently own AT CK10, Fischer DBA-02, UE TF10, previously owned ER-4P/S, MTPC, MTPG) and average_joe mentioned how nearly every pair of his customs are more sonically superior to the top universals. I listen to music at an adequate level and rarely turn the volume up too high because I really fear losing my hearing at a younger age, and I've read how IEMs can damage hearing (especially young people) because they're inserted into your ear canal, which affects how sound originally travel to the ear(from the outer ear to the middle, then to the eardrum). I think I will most likely approach the headphone route since I only have mid-end cans such as HD650 and MDR-F1, and I don't feel like I'm getting tired of this hobby yet. 

 


You're very welcome and thank you, too, for your nice comments. Your collection of high-end IEMs is impressive and you've obviously done your homework on the best products and hearing protection issues. If I can offer you my opinions about some headphones, please let me know. You can see the ones I own by looking up my profile. I'm able to render opinions on what I know and, of course, our music tastes are unique so, as it's said in New York City (where I originally come from), my opinion and a buck will get you a ride on the bus. Nonetheless, if I can help, don't hesitate to ask.
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ricmiclaw View Post

Eighth, the best IEMs, in the opinion of a middle-aged guy who owns top IEMs, top headphones and fine speakers (not the best of the best $50-100K+ but still "reference quality"), is that the best IEMs are not as good as the best full-sized headphones in sound reproduction, which are themselves a totally different experience versus fine speakers (not necessarily better or worse but definitely different).  As good as my JH-16 Pro is, and most people would rank it among the very top of the top, I don't consider it, for my tastes, anywhere near the sound experience of my Audeze LCD2 or other comparable headphones.  In other words, the best IEMs, if you decide to go that route, are lots of money and you might consider instead a full-sized headphone, which could cost about the same and give you more enjoyment.  Also, if you find out that your ears are changing, that will never be an issue with a full-sized headphone so long as your head never becomes too big (literally and figuratively).  As with all other opinions, YMMV.


Great advice.  I wanted to offer my $0.02 here and I am not saying you are incorrect, just my experiences.  I own the LCD-2 and used to own the Tesla T1 (I only auditioned the HD800), used to own expensive home audio equipment, and now own many custom IEMs (not including the JH16 which I just got).  I am ultra impressed by some of my custom IEMs even in comparison with my LCD-2.  While I preferred my LCD-2 over some of my customs, others offer more realism even though the presentation is smaller overall.  This is due to the micro-detail, instrument separation, and transparency I just don't get with the LCD-2.  I am not sure if it is my ears or the specific custom IEMs (the SE 5-way is a clear winner to my ears with a somewhat similar sound signature).

post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by average_joe View Post




Great advice.  I wanted to offer my $0.02 here and I am not saying you are incorrect, just my experiences.  I own the LCD-2 and used to own the Tesla T1 (I only auditioned the HD800), used to own expensive home audio equipment, and now own many custom IEMs (not including the JH16 which I just got).  I am ultra impressed by some of my custom IEMs even in comparison with my LCD-2.  While I preferred my LCD-2 over some of my customs, others offer more realism even though the presentation is smaller overall.  This is due to the micro-detail, instrument separation, and transparency I just don't get with the LCD-2.  I am not sure if it is my ears or the specific custom IEMs (the SE 5-way is a clear winner to my ears with a somewhat similar sound signature).


It's just one of those great unknowns about human beings. Vive la difference, as the French say. I absolutely agree that the LCD2 headphone is not a "neutral" or "transparent" headphone but I enjoy what I think those cans "add" to the music; others think the "addition" is a net minus. Such is life.

A relative of mine lives in a retirement community for "active adults". One of the things I noticed about her community is that almost everyone there shares the same political, social and cultural values. Her community is so homogeneous that I'm inclined to think that if you converse with almost any one of it's residents, you've effectively conversed with them all. How awfully dull and boring. Not for me.

I like this forum because so many different points of view are expressed about something (audio equipment) that can generate a lot of disagreement but should cause little anger. Only the juvenile few take disagreements about these issues personally.

Writing only for myself, I feel $0.02 richer, and then some, for having benefitted from your opinion.
Edited by ricmiclaw - 7/1/11 at 11:28pm
post #11 of 29

What would be the opinion on adding combining IEMs together into a custom shell? (TF10+Something)

post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trillian View Post

What would be the opinion on adding combining IEMs together into a custom shell? (TF10+Something)


It's not a bad idea at all. But even if you could accomplish this as a technical matter, who's going to do it and how much do you think such a custom job would cost? The best custom IEMs have reached a level of technical proficiency that I doubt the unquestionably enormous additional expenditure would possibly be worth whatever gains might presumptively be obtained. There's got to be a law of diminishing returns at some point and I think that the current top-level IEMs are close to it, if not there already.
Edited by ricmiclaw - 7/2/11 at 9:02pm
post #13 of 29

I'm 16 and have customs ,personally I dont think it changes that much although i've only had them for like 3-4 months.

post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by henrylee View Post

I'm 16 and have customs ,personally I dont think it changes that much although i've only had them for like 3-4 months.


Based on some minimal research, it appears that physical changes in the shape and size of the ear canal begin to minimize after adulthood is reached. For purposes of the ear canal, it may be that 16 qualifies as sufficiently adult that further changes may, indeed, be minimal. Of course, even minimal changes might affect the fit and comfort of a custom fit ear mold that was perfect when made but is no longer perfect after a change of just a few percentage points in the size or volume of the ear canal.

In any event, I think the far bigger issue is the kind of damage IEMs can cause to younger ears. Rock star Pete Townsend, who is now nearly deaf, attributes his deafness to a lifetime of loud music and has warned young people of its dangers. By all means, enjoy these miniature music wonders. Just be careful so you can enjoy good hearing for the rest of your life. When I was your age, I remember that my father's deaf relatives looked pretty silly yelling at each other all the time. It stops being silly when you get older and people are yelling at you because you can't hear them anymore.
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ricmiclaw View Post

It's just one of those great unknowns about human beings. Vive la difference, as the French say. I absolutely agree that the LCD2 headphone is not a "neutral" or "transparent" headphone but I enjoy what I think those cans "add" to the music; others think the "addition" is a net minus. Such is life.

A relative of mine lives in a retirement community for "active adults". One of the things I noticed about her community is that almost everyone there shares the same political, social and cultural values. Her community is so homogeneous that I'm inclined to think that if you converse with almost any one of it's residents, you've effectively conversed with them all. How awfully dull and boring. Not for me.

I like this forum because so many different points of view are expressed about something (audio equipment) that can generate a lot of disagreement but should cause little anger. Only the juvenile few take disagreements about these issues personally.

Writing only for myself, I feel $0.02 richer, and then some, for having benefitted from your opinion.

 

Thanks for your open minded and great post (as well as your other posts).  As you know, head-fi is not short on difference of opinion, and I too feel the same about reading your posts.  Many people feel the need to fight for their equipment; I am fortunate to own a lot of great gear and have found my hierarchy as have you!  I am actually thinking of selling my LCD-2 and getting a HD800 to see how that competes against my current top 3 custom IEMs.

 

And as far as loud listening, I completely agree, hearing is a gift that many young people are abusing these days.  However, since I have climbed up the quality ladder I find it easier to listen at quieter volumes due to the enhanced clarity of the presentation, hopefully others will also.

 

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