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Shure SE846: A New In-Ear Flagship From Shure. Finally! (Impressions p26-28) - Page 93

post #1381 of 3042

^THIS

 

QC is my biggest qualm for CIEM, especial the recent rash of new CIEM workshops that didn't have the experience or a root in the music industry.  To me a CIEM needs to be a close collaboration by the user, the audiologist, and the workshop.  The current disjointed ordering process is really suspect.

post #1382 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindrone View Post

No doubt, there are other challenges in CIEM that's very different from universal IEMs. However, also keep in mind that CIEM is like a 20-ish year old industry now, these are problems that they've been addressing for years, and they're still continuing to improve and innovate on.

(As a side note, Sensaphonics posted this pic to Twitter, a CIEM they made for NASA... from waaaay back when before they made soft silicone IEMs: https://twitter.com/Sensaphonics/status/349903501343735810/photo/1)


Getting the right fit

I think the hardest variance to overcome is still the fit. Yes, you do need to go to a good audiologist and get a good impression made. I had been lucky enough that all the impressions I've got over the years (several UE and Sensaphonics) have all been done by audiologist that are closely in touch with the IEM industry, either directly trained by UE or Sensaphonics, or had long standing history for working with musicians.

There was one time when out of desperation of not being able to locate the audiologist I went to before (she was out of town working with various bands during touring season), that I went to a standard hearing aid audiologist and tried my best to explain to them what I needed, I basically knew right away that the impression didn't look right, and the fitting wasn't going to work. Instead of sending in the impression, I waited another month for the audiologist I trusted to be back in town.

So with custom IEM, if you don't get a good fit, you won't get a good seal, and you won't get good sound. This is a huge challenge that's hard to overcome. There are actually a few 3D scanner that's used by audiologists for hearing aids. I remember reading about one that uses an insert that gets filled with saline, so it can even expand and measure the flexibility of your ear's inner walls, to determine how tight they should make the hearing aids. However, these equipments are still quite a bit away from being usable for IEMs, because they only capture the inner ear, and seems like none have been developed to capture the outside ear as well.

Also, it's not as simple as just taking the impression and making a mold from it. The CIEM actually should be made a little larger than your impression as to get a snug fit. Usually this process of building up from the impression to a larger size is a manual process, done by people who are trained with years of experience. There's nothing easy about this process, it's more art than science.


Tuning the sound

I've had the opportunity to tour Ultimate Ear's facility where they make all their custom IEMs. So I can't attest that every single CIEM manufacturer put as much care, attention, and detail to their build process. However I've seen it with my own eyes that Ultimate Ears does, and JH Audio has to do something similar as well for their Freqphase tuning process.

Once the shells are created the tuning process is relatively straight forward. The drivers are designed with specific positioning and sound tube routing in mind. There are going to be slight variance due to the shape of the user's ear, however they only deviate by matters of millimeters. If there are enough discrepancy to cause serious driver arrangement issues, they would just not make it. A good example is Veronica Belmont's recent UE-11 Pro purchase, she actually wanted a UE-18 Pro, and UE told her that's just not possible because they can't fit six drivers into the shape of her ear.

They literally sit there, put the IEM up to a microphone pickup, and test the frequency response of each driver individually, and tune them until they're within 1% of the spec. I forgot how many engineers would have to re-test the previous engineer's work, whether it passed through two or three people... totally forgot. Either way, there's a redundant process here to make sure everything passes within spec.


"Reference plane"?

What every CIEM company will tell you is to make sure you have an impression that gets around the "second bend" of the ear canal. The reason is so that CIEM's can be build to insert deeper into your ear canal and reduce the variance caused by the acoustic chamber between the last bit of ear canal and the ear drums. Given that most of us probably don't insert any universal IEMs beyond the first bend in our ear, which do you think is actually a more stable reference plane to tune the sound for?

BTW, triple-flange tips do insert deeply into the ear and up to the second bend. The problem is a lot of people found triple-flange tips uncomfortable.. and kinda nasty when they pull out chunks of ear wax.. It wasn't a very marketable thing for IEM companies to require triple flange tips for optimal sound.


Sound isolation of CIEM vs. IEM (also build materials)

It's true that sponge/comply tips with universal IEM do provide really good isolation. However I think people are missing the fact that there are actually different construction material for CIEMs as well. What people usually forget, is that sound isolation isn't just about the seal, but it's also about the body material of the IEM and its property to absorb or transfer sound. Hence acrylic CIEMs aren't as good as good as sound isolation, because they actually transfer sound better than universal with sponge/comply tips. Here's a basic rundown of different CIEM constructions:

Acrylic - Most CIEM uses this because it's the easiest to build, you can easily tweak drivers because they're built in two half-shells which is easily sealed. By far the most popular method to build CIEM, and much easier if you want to fit a lot of drivers. It's the least isolating out of all the CIEMs.

Acrylic w/ heat-activated soft acrylic tips - Very, very few CIEM uses this construction now. I had one of the early UE that had this construction. The heat-activated soft acrylic tip gets really nasty over time, and it kinda warps in shape too after a while. I wouldn't recommend these type of construction at all. The sound isolation is the same as full acrylic, the slightly softer tip doesn't make any difference.

Soft silicone - Very complex to build, because it has to be all done in one piece, you can't just make two half and bond them together. Has the advantage of being the tightest fit (since it's soft and can flex), and probably the most vocalist friendly if you're a musician, because the material can move more as you open your jaw wide. The soft silicone material absorbs a TON of sound. It's by far the most isolating out of all IEM/CIEM.

Acrylic shell + soft silicone tip - tbh, I have no idea what these are like, I never had one a CIEM with this combination. I know some companies make them... makes me wonder how they bond the hard acrylic portion to the soft silicone.

So overall, isolation wise, I'd go:

Soft silicone CIEM > universal w/ sponge tip > acrylic CIEM > universal w/ silicone tip

Interesting, what do you think about customs made to universal fit?
Like acrylic shell with silicone tips?
post #1383 of 3042
Quote:

Originally Posted by lindrone View Post

 

It's true that sponge/comply tips with universal IEM do provide really good isolation. However I think people are missing the fact that there are actually different construction material for CIEMs as well. 

 

Agreed.  Material used, size, shape all have an effect on isolation.

post #1384 of 3042
Back to the Shure 846, a dealer I talked to said shure has been tight-lipped even to them about it.

That makes me think there may be further delays. Not that delays are unexpected or whatever. Just a little sign that we may wait until the fall or winter before we see these.
post #1385 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kunlun View Post

Back to the Shure 846, a dealer I talked to said shure has been tight-lipped even to them about it.

That makes me think there may be further delays. Not that delays are unexpected or whatever. Just a little sign that we may wait until the fall or winter before we see these.

 

Word on the street here is mid July.... but nothing concrete.  confused.gif

post #1386 of 3042
SoundEarphones says August...

I'll be surprised if it's before September.
post #1387 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by Levanter View Post


Interesting, what do you think about customs made to universal fit?
Like acrylic shell with silicone tips?

 

I had the opportunity to test the demo units for all the UE products, which are essentially their CIEM with a generically shaped shell and the port opening modified to fit standard sleeves. I don't think they were especially tuned for this purpose, and the reps that has the demo unit will always make sure to tell you that it doesn't sound exactly like the final product, but it's close enough for you to have a good idea of what the sound signature is like.

 

I tried them with comply sleeves, and the demo UE-18 Pro was a little warmer, with a little less clarity than the custom version. However, they are pretty much 95% the same sound. There was not enough difference for me to feel like I was misled, or wasn't able to make an informed decision on my purchase.

 

Based on that experience, I don't think there are any inherent reason why you can't create an universal version of a custom IEM, modify it, tune it to the point where it sounds very close to the custom product. Really what you're missing out on is the comfort and consistency of the custom fit. In the end you're still going to have a little bit of variance when using universal because of the sleeve and the fit, but I do believe you can get very close.

 

However, this should be done by design rather than modification, because there will be some driver tuning involved to compensate for placement (further out from ear canal) and the change of going from a multi-port outlet to a single tube. Several IEM companies now sell an universal and custom version of the same IEM, and I would assume that they have tuned each so they do sound as close to each other as possible.

 

If you're doing your own modification though, I would recommend against it, unless you just want to resell them, or pass them on to a friend. A high end custom IEM modified into an universal is still a pretty high end product, might not be 100% the same, but even 90% or 80% of that is still pretty good, right?

 

I think that's also why the design of the Shure E846 makes sense. Rather than trying to form one consistent sound, Shure is giving the user a choice of filter and sleeves; and maybe somewhere in between the filters and sleeve combination, everyone will be able to find a version of the E846 sound (whatever that is) they would enjoy. It's not pretending that universals can deliver 100% consistency, it's making it clear that the variation is actually its strength, not its detriment.

post #1388 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindrone View Post

...Really what you're missing out on is the comfort and consistency of the custom fit...

 

There are quite a few universal IEMs (and canal phones, in particular) that are—or can be—just as comfortable as, if not more so than, customs.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lindrone View Post

 

However, this should be done by design rather than modification, because there will be some driver tuning involved to compensate for placement (further out from ear canal) and the change of going from a multi-port outlet to a single tube. Several IEM companies now sell an universal and custom version of the same IEM, and I would assume that they have tuned each so they do sound as close to each other as possible.

 

There are universals that have more than one bore: TF10 & TG334.

 

FitEar seem to be very particular about ear impressions (read: they won't accept to make your customs if the ear impressions are not made by a FitEar approved audiologist / person), which apparently practically guarantees a perfect fit first time around. There's one very experienced / credible head-fier who found the (universal) TG334 better sounding than the actual (custom) MH334 (he does own both).

post #1389 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

 

There are quite a few universal IEMs (and canal phones, in particular) that are—or can be—just as comfortable as, if not more so than, customs.

 

Comfort is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. I've gone through almost everything in UE, Ety, and Shure's lineup over the years, as well as Klipsch X10i, some V-Moda and a few other cheaper options. I've never found any of them as comfortable as customs. Basically, I don't like any of the materials for any of the tips on the market. Silicone tips irritate me the least but it doesn't fit as well as sponge and comply. Comply tips and sponge tips fits the best, but there's a irritating "dryness" to them that gets to me after about a hour of wearing at most.

 

Of course, I'm also aware that some people have consistent problem with getting a custom to fit right, often going through refit 2x to 5x and still not getting good results. So I've been lucky in that sense, I've never had to get a refit on any of my customs.

 

Quote:
There are universals that have more than one bore: TF10 & TG334.

 

I'm aware of this, but the context is more in the custom -> universal conversion, which I haven't looked into much, so I don't know how many companies would do a conversion with custom bore configurations.

post #1390 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultrazino View Post

 

 

If you order a custom table from a carpenter and a leg breaks off, will you say mass-produced universal IKEA is better quality?

 

 

I understand where you're coming from, but Ikea? There's Thomasville, Crate and Barrel, Ethan Allen, etc. Multiple levels of quality.

post #1391 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by FieldingMellish View Post

I understand where you're coming from, but Ikea? There's Thomasville, Crate and Barrel, Ethan Allen, etc. Multiple levels of quality.

 

I chose IKEA because this is an international forum. Your examples are American only. wink.gif

But yes, you are right.

post #1392 of 3042

Just like the oaf next to my neighbor's backyard, he also sell some fish in the supermarket next to a stage Lubricating some shure's olive with some olive oil he stuck a pair of IEM to his ears where he was nagged for singing in the bathroom. Everything was wet because of that. 

post #1393 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by evolance7 View Post

Just like the oaf next to my neighbor's backyard, he also sell some fish in the supermarket next to a stage Lubricating some shure's olive with some olive oil he stuck a pair of IEM to his ears where he was nagged for singing in the bathroom. Everything was wet because of that. 
Evo, you're the best.
post #1394 of 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by evolance7 View Post

Just like the oaf next to my neighbor's backyard, he also sell some fish in the supermarket next to a stage Lubricating some shure's olive with some olive oil he stuck a pair of IEM to his ears where he was nagged for singing in the bathroom. Everything was wet because of that. 

Can I have your dealer's number?devil_face.gif

post #1395 of 3042
Between Lindrone's excellent posts and the assorted wackiness, this is the best thread ever about an earphone that's not about an earphone.
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Shure SE846: A New In-Ear Flagship From Shure. Finally! (Impressions p26-28)