I've been using a pair of Etymotic HF5s for about a year and a half now and have loved them. The primary reason I got them was to use as IEMs when I drum but I use them whenever I'm listening to music as well. I'm a huge fan of the analytical sound they present as well as the sound stage. One thing I was warned against and have noticed is that there's really no low end to them (at least physically), but since I'm using them mostly for live performing that doesn't matter. I don't need to feel the bass as long as I can hear it. They turned out to be the perfect first set of IEMs for me, but I have a couple of issues with them.
Microphonics are a big issue unless you wear them over your ear; however, their design doesn't really accommodate doing so. And on the occasion that I attempt to wear them over the ear anyways, I run into seal issues. Because of their design, the cable gets tugged on a lot when they're over your ear which results in losing the seal and eventually they can come out completely. I will note that this is an issue when they're not over your ears as well; it's just amplified when they're over your ears.
My first thought was to look into getting custom molds for the HF5s since Etymotic offers them. The only problem I have with that is that it's going to cost $100 and won't even really fix the issue. The real issue is that they're just not intended to be worn over your ear. Now, I have looked at the Ety ER-4S and apart from being a step up in audio quality the braided cable does look like it would solve some of my issues. The problem is that I don't know that for sure.
So I've been looking at some different low-end custom IEMs and am looking for opinions. Here are my major questions/concerns:
- Will I be able to get isolation similar to the HF5s with customs?
- Is the jump in price to get customs worth it for what I want?
- Is the sound of these models radically different than the HF5? If so, in what way?
I'm currently considering these customs as replacements:
- Westone AC1 (cheapest, but same specs as ES1)
- Westone AC2
- Westone ES1
- UE 4 Pro
- JH5 Pro
Mostly I just need people to bounce ideas off of and get opinions from. What I'm looking for are opinions of the isolation and sound of the models I've listed in comparison to the HF5 and ER-4S (since their signatures are very similar).
Thanks for the help!