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Some Thoughts on Microsonic Custom Tips for Etymotic Headphones

As has been discussed in these forums, Etymotic has created a cost-effective path for custom in-ear monitors:

http://www.etymotic.com/customfit/index.html

First, a few word about me and my goals.   I work as an electrical engineer, but I have had stints as a semi-professional musician and sound engineer.  I also consider myself a recovering audiophile.  I take pride in owning solid, but not overpriced, gear.  

Yet, my goal with the Custom Fit Tips had little to do with these pursuits.  Instead, I was looking for something to wear for long periods, mainly at the office.  Something that would block out the noise when the office was noisy, yet would not bother the neighbors when the office got quiet.  In addition, I have been flying a lot for business trips, including some long international flights.  Even with the Comply tips or Ety’s own super-soft Gliders I purchased, my ears would hurt after a few hours.  So, I started looking for other options, with mutli-hour comfort being my highest priority.  Sound quality and good isolation were tied as close second priorities.

I have owned and enjoyed both Etymotic’s ER-4 and ER-6 IEMs for many years.  I chose to customize the ER-6, mostly because the ER-6 stick out of the ears a lot less than the ER-4.  When you are trying to get some sleep on those long flights, these things matter.

As I understand things, Etymotic first chose ACS for all of their Cutom Fit Tips.  Most reviews I have seen of the ACS tips are positive, with a few complaints of the turn-around time for US customers-apparently ACS molds were manufactured in Europe.  More recently, Etymotic added a second, US-based Custom Tip manufacturer, Microsonic.  Since Microsonic was geographically closer and estimating a two-week turn-around time, I chose Microsonic.  

My visit to the audiologist was on June 29.  Since Pennsylvania-based Microsonic is only a few states away, I chose the cheapest shipping option (UPS Ground, both ways), yet my tips arrived on July 15!   (By the way, I have nothing but praise for Personalized Hearing Care in Westland, MI.  They have done several of these Etymotic fittings and did a great job.)

I have only had my Microsonic tips for a week or so, but I really love them.  They are soft silicone and fit great (both to the IEMs and the ears).  Very comfortable, good seal, and the sound is essentially unchanged from my previous tips!  This past week, I wore them for 4-6 hours at a time at work with no complaints.  These are top quality.  I have shown them to a few co-workers, some that also spend a lot of time on long flights.  Several seemed very impressed and will likely order their own.

I have only one quibble, which is a lack of clear documentation with the ear tips.  The short pamphlet that came with the tips were for another Microsonic product (musician ear plugs).  In particular, I really struggled (maybe for 45 minutes or so) to get them inserted the first time.  To save others some time, I went ahead and made a quick video showing how it is done:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCxkAgYeGSc

Photos can be viewed here: 
 
Happy listening!
 
Ken