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Opinions on Custom IEMs vs Universal IEMs

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone.

 

I've been considering upgrading my IEMs recently since I spend so much time at work with them.  I have been wondering if it is worth the money to go for custom IEMs.  I have Westone 3 and I am considering two IEMs that are about the same price where one is a higher model universal and the other is a lower model custom.  Namely Noble 5 vs Noble 4 custom.  What is everyone's opinions on which would be a better choice?  Even better if someone has some experience related this kind of choice.

 

If anyone wants to comment on my specific situation, my source is an RWAK100 and I listen to a lot of pop and metal with a little classical and electronic.  I will mostly use them in the office and commuting on trains/planes (less than office use).

 

As always, thanks in advance for your input.

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post #2 of 19

The main question is how often do people come up to talk to you?  Customs aren't quite as easy to put in and take out so that's one thing to take in to consideration.  Another is if you have to answer the phone at all in your job as you wouldn't be able to hear it ringing. 

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Phone calls are rare, but putting in my IEMs somehow magically summons people to come to my desk.  This is something I had not heard before.  Worth taking into consideration.

 

How about isolation on a plane?  Are most universals good in this regard?  I know the shape of the IEM plays a role, but I am only looking at the over ear, more ergonomic ones which supposedly have better isolation.

post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by haejuk View Post
 

Phone calls are rare, but putting in my IEMs somehow magically summons people to come to my desk.  This is something I had not heard before.  Worth taking into consideration.

 

How about isolation on a plane?  Are most universals good in this regard?  I know the shape of the IEM plays a role, but I am only looking at the over ear, more ergonomic ones which supposedly have better isolation.


I use my Shure SE 535's for air travel for multiple flights every week.  I find them to be excellent with regard to isolation.  I use the long Westone Star silicon tips.  Clearly a good seal is needed to maximize isolation.  I have never had or tried custom IEM's so I can't make a valid comparison.

 

PS...I like the comment about the "magic" effect that the presence of IEM's have with people who need to speak with you...the same phenomenon occurs on airplanes.  I actually wonder at times if people think they are hearing aids.

post #5 of 19

I've found the Shure olives as good at isolation as anything. I would suppose a silicone custom may be better but haven't had an opportunity to find out. You may want to consider the 4 universal as well though $150 for the custom upgrade seems a good deal. Hard to know if you would actually prefer the 5 without a audition.


Edited by goodvibes - 2/8/14 at 4:51am
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

I've been casting a wider net for my IEM upgrade.  It sounds like I would actually like Heir 5.0 as a UIEM.  It also seems there are so many CIEMs out there that it is almost impossible to determine which one has the kind of signature I would want.  The Heir/Noble 4 UIEM and CIEM both seem to be highly regarded.  I guess I have a lot more reading to do before I can really determine what would be best for me.  It seriously feels like there are at least 4 times more IEMs out there than headphones in the $200 - $600 price range, but maybe that's just because I haven't read up on IEMs for very long.

 

Thanks for your input.  It sounds like deep insertion tips and foam tips, both of which I have yet to try, isolate decently well.

post #7 of 19

I have a Noble 4 and it's an excellent IEM, reasonably comfortable with a solid selection of tips included.  Having said that I much prefer my customs.  They go in the ears and there's no periodic adjustment needed to keep them there.  Isolation is good (though you can achieve the same or a little better with Etymotic or Shure).  Comfort is leagues better than any universal I've tried (though please note I have a smaller than average ear canal and that contributes to my views).  Finally, I believe they sound better.  Evidence suggests that an IEM and CIEM with the same driver compliment will sound better in custom form.  In other words I'm betting the Noble 4 would be a little better in silicone or acrylic than it is as a universal; when you're paying hundreds of dollars for your C/IEM 'a little better' counts.

 

This is why I didn't buy a Noble 6; I can't justify spending that sort of money on a universal when it will buy me a custom instead.

 

P.S. Acrylic customs (i.e. my JH13 Pros) can be removed from the ear with a very quick twist.  Removal may be a touch slow when you're new to customs but after a few weeks it'll be as quick as a universal.  Silicone takes a touch longer.

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by haejuk View Post
 

I've been casting a wider net for my IEM upgrade.  It sounds like I would actually like Heir 5.0 as a UIEM.  It also seems there are so many CIEMs out there that it is almost impossible to determine which one has the kind of signature I would want.  The Heir/Noble 4 UIEM and CIEM both seem to be highly regarded.  I guess I have a lot more reading to do before I can really determine what would be best for me.  It seriously feels like there are at least 4 times more IEMs out there than headphones in the $200 - $600 price range, but maybe that's just because I haven't read up on IEMs for very long.

 

Thanks for your input.  It sounds like deep insertion tips and foam tips, both of which I have yet to try, isolate decently well.

 

If you like Westone3, you will like Heir 5.0, it has somewhat similar signature, 5.0 is more detailed and better imaging and transparency compared to W3, bass also hits harder, and treble is smoother but quite laid back

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

It sounds like I really need to try customs at least once.  This is too bad for me because of the extra cost and relative lack of reviews compared to universals.

 

Is it a whole lot worse to get a decent universal reshelled compared to just getting one of the models that the CIEM company develops?  Or are both of these valid options?

post #10 of 19

I wouldn't be too worried about the lack of reviews in respect to universals vs customs. If you are debating the Noble 5 vs the Noble 5C or the Noble 4 vs Noble 4C, the tuning is the exact same, just the fit and isolation are better in the custom models. Plus you get the added bonus of being able to design your own CIEM's.

 

As for which model is right for you depends on what kind of tuning you are looking for. I own the Noble 4 and I can say the description of the Noble 4 is accurate and you'll find plenty of reviews if you search for it. I also own the K10 and it is a treat.

post #11 of 19

Customs give better isolation. I don't use them often at work because I cannot hear anything and they are a hassle to take out and put back in. The shure olives are a close second when it comes to isolation and performs well for air travel. Also, be willing to pay the extra for customs as you need to get molds from your audiologist and also the shipping cost along with any extra costs that may be associated with customs. I do find my customs more enjoyable as long as I don't need to take them out (I have UM Miracles and had tried pretty much every UIEM in the $300-$600 range). Another issue with customs is getting a sound signature you like. If you don't like it, its not like you can just resell it like a UIEM (at least not as easily and not without eating a hefty price drop). I actually bought a few customs that were like new and created a "faux" seal by pushing it into my ear (I have rather large canals as it turns out) and judged the sound that way. When I finally had one that I liked, I had it remolded to my ears with fisher audio/inearz. This is another option you can consider.

 

Back to the topic of work IEMs. I use Phiaton (the "open back" ones) so I can still hear what's going on around me and it's easy to take off and put back on. The customs go on when I want to ignore everything around me and I need to focus. Hope this helps in your decision making process.

post #12 of 19

Customs give better isolation and fit, but I find that universals can match a top custom like the UM Miracle. The 1plus2 exceeded it by quite a bit, but sadly it's isolation was terrible. 

post #13 of 19

What makes customs so much more difficult to insert?  I've always expected it would be faster since it's molded to your ears and could only go in one way. 

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by bytor33 View Post
 

What makes customs so much more difficult to insert?  I've always expected it would be faster since it's molded to your ears and could only go in one way. 

They are not hard to insert, there's just a week or so of getting used to it. It took me 10 minutes to put mine in when I first got them lol. 

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by bytor33 View Post
 

What makes customs so much more difficult to insert?  I've always expected it would be faster since it's molded to your ears and could only go in one way. 

Once you're accustomed to them they're as fast as universals (faster if you're not using foam tips).  Acrylic is a little faster than silicone.

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