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Need advice: silicone custom IEM?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi all. I'd love to get your advice.


I'm looking for a decent silicone custom IEM. I will be primarily using this for airplane travel. I travel A LOT (flying twice a week normally), and I find that wearing IEMs really reduces my fatigue. I'm currently using a few different IEMs including Klipsch X-10s and Westone 4's.


I had a pair of custom UE-11 Pros at one stage, but left them on a plane and couldn't find them after everyone got off eek.gif I really enjoyed the sound, but I have to say the hard acrylic got uncomfortable after a while, particularly wearing them for over a couple of hours. I got them adjusted by UE, which definitely helped, but it was still somewhat uncomfortable. And definitely not wearable when eating!


So I'm figuring that silicone might be the answer for me. 


I've come across a few - Spiral Ear, Sensaphonics, ACS. Any opinions?


Ideally I'd like to spend $500 or less. No point spending huge dollars when I'm just using them on a plane.


PS - why haven't people integrated noise canceling techniques with IEMs? I'm figuring that the 20+ dB isolation can be further improved by out-of-phase reproduction of repetitive noise from a microphone. You would think that's possible using technology from ACS, although they use that same technology to increase 'bleed' from surrounding noise (kinda the opposite)...


Thanks in advance!

post #2 of 6



I've just had to send back my custom silicones (faulty driver).  However in terms of comfort I found them more tiring, and that was after two refits.   As ever ymmv.



post #3 of 6

Soft silicone earpieces, properly fitted, are far more comfortable and offer more isolation than acrylics or other hard materials. They also maintain their seal better.


I'm obviously going to recommend Sensaphonics, though they are a bit out of your specified price range. I wear mine for stretches of 8 hours or more with no discomfort or fatigue.


As a MOT, I can't comment on other brands.

post #4 of 6
I have a pair of Sensaphonics 2max's and I love them. The comfort is awesome. One of the main reasons I got them was like you... For planes. On long haul flights I put them in and leave them most of the flight no problem (last was Amsterdam to San Francisco... 11+ hours). On those flights I actually use them a lot with my phone as a white noise generator. Between the isolation and a very low volume white noise, I can actually lose consciousness for a few hours even with people yaking away around me. Plus the sound quality is very very good. Very neutral. Highly recommended.

Btw, I did have to send them back once for a refit... No big deal.
post #5 of 6

When I was looking at customs, I spoke with the owner of Clear Tune and he said he could put silicone tips on their CTM200 for me.    I didn't get them then, still might.   Pretty good price point at $350, plus reviewed very highly by Joker.

post #6 of 6

I've got two custom in-ear monitors right now, having used generics for 25 years of almost constant airplane time.  Generics never quite fit me right, and once I saw my ear molds I understood why... yeesh, my ear canals are rectangular!  Or almost... flat and very elongated, and square-ish corners. Weird.  No wonder my choice seemed always to be great isolation and pain, or comfort with bad isolation.


I bought two custom IEM setups at the same time.  First, got a set of Westone ES-5 as my holiday gift to myself.  While being hard plastic, they have soft slightly expanding canals.  The sound is spectacular.  Beyond spectacular.  Ruined my listening to several albums I'd listened to for years because the Westones are as close to flawless sound as you can get, and I suddenly could hear some really sloppy mixing, could tell how much compression was used, could hear sloppy over-tracking. But well produced high-def lossless music is complete bliss.  I can wear them for hours (non-stop US to Hong Kong). In terms of isolation, they're incredible. I use them on my tractor, they isolate me from the roaring engine better than the Sony or Bose noise cancelling headphones I used to rely on, and sound better besides.  I can't imagine any reason to add noise cancellation - one of the things that drove me to IEMs a long time ago was that I can hear the electronics at work in anything other than really loud environments.  (And my lawn tractor is way, way louder than sitting in those seats in the back on rear-engine jets.)

The other set I got was, I got custom silicone ear fittings for my Etymotic ER-4P, through their custom fit program where they pick up part of the costs through arranging discounts. I should have done that YEARS AGO.  I love the 4P for everything except electronica or bass orgy kind of recordings, but with the custom tips there's a lot more bass, and the overall sound quality got better - more precise sounding. I've compared them to a couple of the multi-driver generic IEMs recently, and they sounded better than any of them.  They don't sound as rich and lush as the Westones, but they also don't make the sloppy recordings sound sloppy. Some things I only listen to with my Etys now...  And they're cheap. Buy a set of any of the Etys... getting your ear molds are cheap (and they're re-usable) and the cost of getting the custom earpieces is about $60, and you can swap them on any of the Ety earphones other than the old ES6 or their bluetooth.


I'm now getting two additional sets of custom fittings... I own a couple other Etys, and I'm going to get them fitted.  You can swap the Ety fittings between most of their IEMs, but I want to keep one set in my briefcase, have another for use with my mobile or music when I'm at home.  Ety also has an app that lets you use the microphone on the earphone cord to mix in external sound to taste, something that I find is very, very cool when sitting in airport lounges waiting to hear if your flight is finally going to go or not. I've put my earpieces on my Ety HF-3, and it works very well.  Westone has a cord with a mic in it (although out of stock for months) that I'm going to buy for use with the app.


The Ety custom pieces are all silicone, I thought they'd be more comfortable, but there's honestly zero difference in comfort between them and my Westone.  No differences in isolation, either. I think silicone or plastic would hurt equally if not fitted perfectly.


Having the custom IEMs has had one other impact... I don't use my regular headphones hardly at all now. The incredible quality of the custom IEMs kind of ruined my appreciation for other headphones.  And, I've sold my noise cancelling headphones.


Altec Lansing does all-silicone ear pieces, but I haven't heard them.  I'd suggest that it's less important for comfort than you might think.  Many manufacturers of custom IEMs are now doing what Westone does, and making soft, heat-expandible canals.  (I'm getting a set of Aurisonic AS-2, and they have that coating standard.)


I still fly two to five flights a week, and I can say I haven't seen any custom IEM users other than a few times where I've sat next to musicians.  And they're always surprised to hear I'm not a musician (used to be) but still have custom IEMs.


Once you do this, you'll spend the first few months kicking yourself for having waited so long.

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