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Are custom IEMs still popular?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

couple years ago it was all customs, now there isn't as much noise about custom IEMs. was it just a fad, or did the market get way too flooded?

post #2 of 16

There seem to be more and more custom options available.  ACS & Minerva in the UK, Spiral Ear and I think Earsonics in Europe, along with a whole bunch whose brand names I can't remember, but were in Italy, Germany and one of the Baltic countries, a whole load in the US - Westone, JHAudio and UE have a vast range of CIEMs, Heir Audio in Canada (the 8.A is what I'm lusting after at the moment) and Unique Melody seem to be an enormous great multi national based in China.  

 

I'm absolutely sure there's a whole bunch I've not remembered.  But the number of manufacturers would suggest they're as popular as ever, even with many costing upwards of $1k.  

post #3 of 16

Heir Audio is actually subdivision of Micro-DSP based in Canada, but their lab is in China and all orders would be fulfilled there. 

 

I actually think there is just as much noise if not more noise on custom iems. Some more CIEM companies that surfaced this year include FrogBeats and Aurisonics. A couple months ago every page of the portable audio thread was filled with CIEM questions and while it may have died down a bit, I think interest in CIEMs have increased greatly. 

post #4 of 16

i think there's too much ciem choice now, but the price still too high. I wonder how many people can pay for $500+ inear compare to $100

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoxBoxBox View Post

couple years ago it was all customs, now there isn't as much noise about custom IEMs. was it just a fad, or did the market get way too flooded?

 

Rest assured the customs' hype is alive and well. One thing that has changed, though, is that these days many people refer to customs as CIEMs.


Edited by music_4321 - 6/3/12 at 4:28am
post #6 of 16

The vast majority of people I talk with hear significant improvements, meaning the realism is quite a bit greater than with universal IEMs.  Of course, it depends on which custom IEM people are referring to as with anything, performance varies.  Also, source, music choice, listening conditions, and expectations play into it.  You can check out pretty much all of the manufacturers here.

post #7 of 16

There are quite a few people who have not been that impressed by customs, specially after all the hype, exaggeration & misinformation surrounding these products. And there are many people who, while being happy with the SQ they got, still regret having taken the customs route due to the less than stellar experience they had with the whole process, which in many, many cases involved long, loooong wait times, multiple re-fits and several added costs the customer was not aware of before they started the whole process.

Unfortunately, we don't hear as many horror stories about these issues because, amongst other things, people often want to sell their custom sets and, therefore, often keep quiet about their true experiences, or just speak very briefly about them once. By contrast, those happy customs owners will often post a hell of a lot more and simply keep the hype alive and well.

Unimpressed customs owners will be given all manner of excuses --often so-called explanations-- as to why they're not getting that very significant SQ improvement they were supposed to be getting.

There are cases where customs are indeed the right choice, namely cases where people may have had difficulties getting a proper fit with several universals, but this is not that common.

Often, people will find, after a while, that perhaps the custom they happened to choose did not offer the type of sound sig they were looking for, or that truly appeals to them, or they simply develop an appreciation for a new type of sound or FR -- this is all the more relevant in those customs very few people have owned, ie where there's very little real, unbiased feedback to rely upon. In this, as in the case of most customs, the re-sale value of these products is pretty low, unlike those of universals.


Edited by music_4321 - 6/3/12 at 11:37am
post #8 of 16

I think it's still very much in demand.  I personally would never go back to non-customs.  I just love my JH13s and JH5s SO much.  Better than anything I've ever heard.  Although it gets expensive and troublesome when you break one by dropping it... Which i've done twice now.  Had my JH13s remolded twice now because I cracked the shell...

 

That being said, still the best choice I've ever made going to customs.

post #9 of 16

I'm sure they're still popular, but a lot of universal alternatives have come out in the past year or two.  Most companies' flagship models have been improved from the triple balanced armature models to quad driver ones that have really competitive prices and can definitely beat out much of the lower end customs (westone 4's going around for $275 lightly used are hard to beat for that price)  

There are also a couple of customs that have been made into universals so people don't need to go through the trouble of getting impressions and waiting for their customs to come out, and there are even several ultra high end universals at 1k+ that can rival full blown customs.

post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michiyo-Fir View Post

I think it's still very much in demand.  I personally would never go back to non-customs.  I just love my JH13s and JH5s SO much.  Better than anything I've ever heard.

 

That being said, still the best choice I've ever made going to customs.

I agree. I will never buy a universal IEM again, been very happy with my UM reshelled TF10. The fit and isolation of a custom is way above a universal and the music is so alive. 

post #11 of 16

I think customs have increased in popularity over the last few years with them being more affordable than in the past when it was priced at 1k or bust. With all these models at a much better price and all these companies with different price ranges one may say that the customs market has exploded and now theres too much choice. 

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

There are quite a few people who have not been that impressed by customs, specially after all the hype, exaggeration & misinformation surrounding these products. And there are many people who, while being happy with the SQ they got, still regret having taken the customs route due to the less than stellar experience they had with the whole process, which in many, many cases involved long, loooong wait times, multiple re-fits and several added costs the customer was not aware of before they started the whole process.

Unfortunately, we don't hear as many horror stories about these issues because, amongst other things, people often want to sell their custom sets and, therefore, often keep quiet about their true experiences, or just speak very briefly about them once. By contrast, those happy customs owners will often post a hell of a lot more and simply keep the hype alive and well.

Unimpressed customs owners will be given all manner of excuses --often so-called explanations-- as to why they're not getting that very significant SQ improvement they were supposed to be getting.

There are cases where customs are indeed the right choice, namely cases where people may have had difficulties getting a proper fit with several universals, but this is not that common.

Often, people will find, after a while, that perhaps the custom they happened to choose did not offer the type of sound sig they were looking for, or that truly appeals to them, or they simply develop an appreciation for a new type of sound or FR -- this is all the more relevant in those customs very few people have owned, ie where there's very little real, unbiased feedback to rely upon. In this, as in the case of most customs, the re-sale value of these products is pretty low, unlike those of universals.

 

I think you are over-exaggerating the issue. Got me a JH13 pro and reshelled my SE530, never been happier and my JH13 is miles ahead any universal I have ever heard.

post #13 of 16

I agree my JH-16 is much better than any universal I've heard.  Even my lower end JH-5 was better than any top tier universal.  There are so many companies now and choices, I think Average_joes custom review really helped me pick out the custom with the sound signature that I wanted.


Edited by KimChee - 6/3/12 at 9:26pm
post #14 of 16

I have been dreaming about owning my own custom IEM for years now. Everytime I have the money for them, I just can't justify spending over a grand on them.

post #15 of 16

I definitely have the money to buy CIEMs (that's not an issue at all). But, justifying the purchase (with the current business model) is difficult.

 

Diminishing returns is also not a concern for me. I use earphones 8 hours out of a 12-hour-a-day work schedule. A little gain can mean a lot to me. The gain I made by just happening upon the T-Mo Galaxy S2 is the difference between me listen to music over half the time on my daily commute (as opposed to listening to podcasts almost all of the time previously).

 

I wonder if I'm really going to get a gain in sound quality in a noisy environment. Maybe later this year, I'll get a quieter International as oppose to this loud Freightliner tractor. Right now, the truck engine noise never stops so the room for error is zero. My triple-flangled tipped Shure SE535s work well for isolation.  Some reviewers post that the isolation is good with customs while other custom owners post that it's not so great for them. Who knows? Fit is a personal thing with customs. Reshelling (for a better fit) could mean months of waiting depending on the company.

 

The bread & bananas business model that I've become accustom too is nearly reversed in buying CIEMs and other “high rated” portable audio gear. There's bread & bananas (perishable items) within walking distance of my house in any direction (gas stations, grocers, drugstores, etc). The company(s) assumes the risk (in a volume game) that maybe we'll purchase those items before they spoil. I ordered (and paid for) a portable amp (Headstage Arrow 4G) and waited 6 months before hearing a single word of the status of my order (never again!!).

 

I know people here hate Bose and Dre Beats but there's a listening display for these items in (at least) 6 different locations within 10 miles of my house. There are kids walking around with $300 headphones around their necks. If you want to listen to Shure or Westone universal IEMs in my city, you have to buy a plane ticket to get pass airport security to concourse-B to the InMotion store. Or, if you promise to buy something, on a Thursday before 5 p.m., you can be escorted to the store by the manager (if available).

 

Logitech has items in those same 6 locations near my house but apparently they don't believe a UERM demo (with universal sleeves) will sell the product. Meanwhile, people have $1000+ rims and $1000+ car audio equipment and, again, those $300 Beats.

 

There should be one CIEM display in every U.S. city with a million+people in a shopping mall with brochures to show off the personalized bling you could have while “out-beating” the Beats. Just cut a deal with one of those sunglasses/fake jewelry/cellphone/cologne kiosk vendors.

 


Edited by truckdriver - 6/4/12 at 6:54am
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