Are Customs Better than Universal IEMs?
Jul 24, 2008 at 5:53 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

AudioDwebe

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This question is posed to those who have a custom IEM, and have also heard universal IEMs that fit them properly (so that fit doesn't become an issue). My question is this?

Are your custom IEMs better sounding than the universals you've heard within a given price range? By that I mean please don't compare a $50 universal against a $1100 custom and declare the "custom" better in all aspects of sound.

I have several IEMs that fit me well (ER4/UE 5Pro/had E500). Considering that they fit well, would going to customs be an improvement? Or are customs the most beneficial to those who have had a difficult time getting a proper fit with other universal IEMs, or is it more along the lines of a "pride in ownership" kind of thing where you know that not another soul on earth has the same, exact IEMs as you do or maybe even the fact that you can pick your own color/design/etcetera.

Please let me know how you feel about your IEMs.
 
Jul 24, 2008 at 8:49 PM Post #2 of 10

EyeAmEye

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AudioDwebe /img/forum/go_quote.gif
This question is posed to those who have a custom IEM, and have also heard universal IEMs that fit them properly (so that fit doesn't become an issue). My question is this?

Are your custom IEMs better sounding than the universals you've heard within a given price range? By that I mean please don't compare a $50 universal against a $1100 custom and declare the "custom" better in all aspects of sound.

I have several IEMs that fit me well (ER4/UE 5Pro/had E500). Considering that they fit well, would going to customs be an improvement? Or are customs the most beneficial to those who have had a difficult time getting a proper fit with other universal IEMs, or is it more along the lines of a "pride in ownership" kind of thing where you know that not another soul on earth has the same, exact IEMs as you do or maybe even the fact that you can pick your own color/design/etcetera.

Please let me know how you feel about your IEMs.




I can say that given the same relative price range, the FreQ Show is a notch above the TripleFi and Shure SE530. The Sleek custom at $300 gives you a nearly identical presentation to it's universal cousin SA6, which I think beats the Triples and Shure as well. So I would have to say the customs models go beyond the fit issues and personalization.
 
Jul 24, 2008 at 9:17 PM Post #3 of 10

Bones13

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Well first you need to define "better"

Clearly, some of the money for "similarly priced" IEMs will go for the custom part. So you are comparing apples to oranges in the same price range.

I have UE10pros, Klipsch Image, and Shure E4cs, as well as some other lesser priced IEMs, and some nice over ear headphones.

I think the choice of custom vs. non custom IEMs depends on comfort level of the wearer. This will be determined by ear canal size and shape, and how long you wear them at a time. I have small ear canals and have pain with non custom IEMs if I wear them for over about an hour. I can wear my customs as long as I want.

I do like the UE10Pros "better" than the Images, but the Images are smaller, easy to carry and use. Then again, the customs cost about 3 times as much. Have not heard the UE non customs, which would present a better comparison to answer your question though.

If you have no issue with comfort, your money will buy better non custom IEMs than custom. If you have fit issues, or wear them for extended periods of time, you might should look into customs.
 
Aug 26, 2008 at 2:40 PM Post #6 of 10

ljcii

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so, the other costs incurred through the impressions made and shipping there is justified? Whereby, in the end(including the impression + shipping amounts), their sound is still better than others of the same price-range?
 
Aug 26, 2008 at 3:26 PM Post #7 of 10

tomjtx

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nsx_23 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I wonder if its possible to get a custom ear plug done for my SF5s as I love the sound, but absolutely hate the fit.


hearyourself.com make custom friction molds for SF5, Etys and almost any others

With SF5's you wont need to send them in you just have to send the ear impressions.
Cost is 110.00 + cost of impressions.

I just got an impressions quote from a local audiologist , 50.00 for both ears.

Other cos. offer soft silicone customs which might be even more comfortable.

sensaphonics is one, but there are others.
 
Aug 26, 2008 at 3:46 PM Post #8 of 10

ljcii

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If you realise, i think he already has his custom already
smily_headphones1.gif

IEMs/Headphones:
-UE Superfi5 pro stated in his sig.
 
Aug 26, 2008 at 3:56 PM Post #9 of 10

trickywombat

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ljcii /img/forum/go_quote.gif
so, the other costs incurred through the impressions made and shipping there is justified? ...


It is hard to justify audio products with a cost-benefit analysis. It boils down to getting it because you like it. An unfortunate result of comparing apples and oranges. Something more expensive frequently sounds different. Whether it sounds better or not is subjective.

Some brands (Livewires and UE) have universal fit models of their customs, and you can try them at Head-Fi meets or trade shows. Other than that, it is pretty much a leap of faith - we all hear differently from each other.

In the case of my Livewires - yes. They do sound 'better' than other IEMs in the same price-range even after paying an audiologist. Livewires cost less than UM2, SE530 or TF10. LW also sound very different from all 3 of them so it can also be argued they don't necessarily sound better. But for me, I could wear customs for longer periods without discomfort vs universals. Isolation-wise, LW still can't beat my Etymotic ER6.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ljcii /img/forum/go_quote.gif
... their sound is still better than others of the same price-range?


There really is no other IEM in the UE-11 price range. Lot's of less-expensive customs (Sensaphonics, LW, Westone, ACS, Future Sonics, etc). I can't really do a cost comparison. Get the UE-11 only if you like the sound signature.


If you find that universal IEMs are comfortable with an acceptable SQ, consider yourself fortunate. It is not true that customs are universally more comfortable and isolate better. You'll see many negative comments about customs on Head-Fi as well.

Everything has limitations, so if you can live with the limitations of universal IEMS, good and if you are happy with universal IEMs - great.

Going from universals to customs was an improvement for me in terms of soundstage, detail and fit. Somedays, the customs bother me and I'll use my universal IEMs or earbuds.

IMHO, once you get past the price of the SE530, you are facing diminishing returns - you'll be spending more and more for less and less improvement in SQ.

In terms of isolation, no IEM - custom or universal - has enough isolation to allow critical listening in a noisy environment. One way to avoid the diminishing returns of expensive IEMs is to use an IEM you like for listening on-the-go, then spending money on full-sized headphones and a desktop/home amp instead.

There's also the issue of synergy - this is important as it will help you decide where you should spend your money. I heard a combination I really liked:
CD player -> Lisa III amp -> Etymotic 6
IMHO, The above combination made my cheap Ety 6 blow away the combination of
iPod -> (RSA Tomahawk/Predator) + LW customs

So, to make a long story short. Customs are great, generally worth the expense, but do not universally better all non-custom IEMs. The money spent on high-end customs can get you a very nice amp and/or full-size headphones
- e.g. $[UE-11 pro] > $[DT880 + Lisa III + ER4s]
 
Aug 26, 2008 at 4:09 PM Post #10 of 10

ljcii

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Thank you very much!!
 

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