For the last couple months I have been enjoying these and thought I'd give them some love by dedicating a thread to them.
Here's a link to show you some of the options, etc. http://www.earplugstore.com/westone-um56.html (you can also purchase them direct through Westone, which is actually what I did- I just like the presentation of the product on the link). They can come with all sorts of patterns, swirls, etc. but I chose a basic black to match with my tralucent ref 1s. that they accompany.
Stupid But Necessary Disclaimer:
I am not employed nor endorsed by Westone, and paid full retail for these.
Just like when you buy CIEMs. 1) Give them money 2) Send them impressions (I did mine with a bite block) 3) wait 2-3 weeks, then receive said custom sleeves 4) enjoy!
Westone has 2 options: otto-fit or silicon. Cody at Westone recommended otto-fit, and I had already had and loved that with my previous Westone ES5s so I went with that. Plus, I believe Head-fi'er Mython said that silicon warms up in your ears pretty easily, per his experience with spiral ear se5s, and I don't like feeling like an earache is coming on.
They aren't hard like a typical acrylic and have a little bit of give in them. They almost feel like they expand once in my ear to fill out the cavity nicely.
The ones that I had made will fit the standard nozzle size used by Westone, Noble, Aurisonics, Tralucent, and many others. I'm sure if you have another earphone type, Westone will work with you to get their sleeves appropriately fitted for them.
The otto-fit sleeves feel exactly like how I remember my es5s- incredibly comfortable. They do go ear-rapingly deep (see pics below), but not quite as bad as the double or triple flange tips that I have. This also means that you can't lie on your side with these. The entire tip will be in your ear canal, and so if you don't like that feeling, then you'll struggle liking these. Personally, I don't mind- I feel more isolated, like there's a private concert and its me alone that the band is playing for.
Once they're in, there's no need to readjust to correct the seal- my listening sessions are usually about an hour to an hour and a half and I can maintain the seal for that entire length. This was really why I got them. I love my ref 1s- but I was constantly popping the seal- mostly it was worsened by the cable that they come with that forces them into your ears at an awkward angle, but even aside from that, I would still find that if I went from sitting to lying down, or if I nodded, or basically if I just lived while forgetting I was wearing them, my music would suddenly sound hollow. That was so annoying .
Also, because I'm not constantly readjusting, at some point during listening I forget that I'm wearing them and find myself getting lost in the music easier.
They do a good job of blocking out ambient noise and I notice that even without music playing, external sound is slightly muted. Customs will be a little bit better, but not much. Definitely much better than any other type of tip I have used.
I know this description is going to piss off a lot of people because its so general, but if asked I would just say that they make the Ref 1s sound "right." I say this because, so long as you can get an excellent fit with any decent tips, your IEM is going to sound "right" - as in how the manufacturer intended it to sound.
To elaborate, the soundstage seems as wide and high as with the spiral tips (which was my favorite before). I think if I had a worse seal, my IEMs would sound a bit airier with better soundstage, but I'd lose the weightiness of the mids, and the extension of the highs and lows. Speaking of bass... BASS! These tips don't increase the bass, but they do exaggerate it. Meaning that when it goes low, it sounds deeper and has more texture. This probably has to due with just how much surface area there is, with the sleeves lining your canals for a good half inch or so. When there's a deep bass note, you will feel it, as the entire sleeve must on some level vibrate with it. This effect might be unique to this sleeve being used with dynamic driver-based IEMs, as balanced armature bass does not actually push air the same way that DDs do.
Here's the negative- these will stick out a bit from your ears. How much this bothers you or doesn't is something for you to decide, but you definitely will want to be aware of it. The entire IEM will be outside of your ear, with the exception of where the sleeve begins.
Sorry for poor quality of first two pics... taking ear selfies is hard!
That's all for now folks!
Feel free to ask me questions
Edited by ChrisSC - 11/16/14 at 5:24pm