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Custom IEM review: Microsonic Epic 3D

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I started a long way before I decided to go with a custom in-ear monitor. I have upgraded my home stereo and then I started to feel that my Westone 4 has an entirely different sound signature. I can't say I don't like it, but sometimes it was a bit too much.

I had a great fight with universal IEMs, I can hardly find a propel seal. I tried the foamies from Comply, Olives from Shure. But then I figured out the medium size is too small, the big size makes my ear canal to explode.

So I ended up with a custom mold for my Westone's made by a local hearing professional. I loved it, but the nose of the Westone is straight without any grip. It is not so convenient to take the monitor out of the molds and start fishing for the molds in my ear canal... frown.gif ( I couldn't twist the body of the Westones, it instantly get out of the molds.)

I really loved the seal and the differences that I could experience comparing to the foamies. Then I started to look for possibilities how can I get a pair of full custom IEMs. I live in Hungary, so it was not an easy turn. Then I found a lab, where they can make the impressions, and without transfering the impressions they can create customs based on the Microsonic Music technology in Budapest.

I had a long talk with the audiologist of Microsonic Lab in Budapest. We come down to the conclusion, I need the Microsonic Epic 3D, this is a 3 driver cunstruction, 1 bass, 1 mid and 1 high. I thought that if I have a problem, they are here. They can support me without airmailing to the US.

You can see pictures of the customs here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yb81sji0pvnf4z3/GdmBFYseNs

On the pictures you can see that the right and the left earpiece is not equal in size. I asked the retailer, they told me it can heppan. The 3 drivers and the crossover takes space, depending on my ear canal size it can have this result.

I will continue it in the evening...
Edited by pga - 8/18/12 at 2:55am

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post #2 of 5

The socket connectors look great! I've only seen something like that with the FitEar customs. Looking forward to your review

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
As I promised, here comes the next section.

Cables

The cables are seemingly indestructible. They are thicker and longer (ready for on stage usage) than a usual universal iem's cable. 
There is a memory cable part which connects to the iem body. This part is also bit longer, and for me it doesn't keep the shape after I remove them from my ear.
The cable is a bit spring like, it gets a shape what it wants. I need to play a bit before I can put it back into the metal case. smily_headphones1.gif I think it will change with time.
The cable part between the Y joint and the plug to the iem body has a little microphonic effect.

Fit

The first time usage was a bit painful. I know that it could be normal, this is my first full custom iem. The painful part of the insertion was in my outer part of my ears.

I thought that I won't use any gel provided together with the iem, but then i had to. I got a bottle of oto-silk (I don' know if the competition also use this kind of gel?). Then using it the iem was a perfect fit without any pain.

Now after, after my initial learning period I can insert it without any problems.

In connection to this, the first 1-2 times when I used it the isolation was less than my Westodone 4 + custom mold. I tested it with noise in the room, there were a clear noticable difference.
I came down to conclusion, I have to push the upper part of the iem body just a little bit into my ear canal after twisting it to make a perfect seal.

Now I still can't get that much isolation with the Epic 3D what the Westone can provide.

Sound Quality

I used the following devices for the test, because I would use the iem with them:
 - iPhone 4,
 - iPad (3rd gen),
 - Desktop PC with an Creative X-Fi sound card.

I listened to music to see how it performs. Aac is lossy format, so I took my lossless collection and I converted some of my favourite albums to Apple Lossless format. And I copied them to my iPhone. On the computer I used the flac files with foobar2000.

I started with a song where there is alot of bass in the beginning. I heard a nice start. I liked it. But. Then the song started to expand I heard something strange. I thought I will try to make the volume a bit higher... and a bit more higher.

The bass is good. I hear the mids lightly, somtimes non-existing. The highs was a bit overpowered with alot of "hiss", "hess".

Comparing to the Westone 4 the Microsonic has a totally different sound signature. The Epic 3D sounds more natural, the Westone seems a bit overpowered on the bass range.

Now I realized that all of my problems could come from a fitting problem and (or) the mid drivers are not perfectly fitted. I will talk with the audiologist for support.

If it doesn't fix the problems, I will consider buying another custom iem (Westone ES5, or JH Audio 13,16).

In the coming weeks I will dig more and more about the topic, i will post updates here also.

Update: the part connected with the sound quality have been reworked. I removed a big part, I need to contact the lab to adjust the iems.
Edited by pga - 8/20/12 at 3:30am
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
More details will follow after refitting the iems. (about 1-2 weeks later, I am on a abroad now)
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
The story goes on. Now I use the EPIC 3D custom IEMs for a while. It turned out, that the fit is perfect. There were no need for any change, I had to take time to get used to it and learn the technique how to insert them. Despite the fact that I used half-custom molds, the full-custom body is a different story.

About the sound quality, it is interesting. I can confirm that, I am done with the burn-on period of the IEM. The sound gets extremely detailed and accurate. It was not there in the beginning.

I continously compared the Westone 4 with the EPIC 3D and the last time I realized that something really strange is happening. I loved the details of the music, the fine texture and the well controlled bass using the EPIC 3D. When I change back to the Westone 4, it was a "bass head" without the details. That moment was very surprising for me, becuase in the past there were no headphone/earphone which I found to be better then the Westones.

I learned that the EPIC 3D is sensitive to the source. It can be easily driven but the base noise is a bit more presented comparing to the Westones. The EPIC 3D can do the "hiss", "hess" thing. My conclusion for that is I am searching for a good DAC/AMP pair for my PC.

So now I decided to stick with the EPIC 3D, and I will sell my Westone 4 with all related accessory.
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