Custom molds for Etys
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jim

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Hey all,

I finally got them! This morning I went over to the campus speech and hearing clinic and picked up my molds for a little less than $110. I had the impressions made at school, but they sent it out to Westone for manufacture. I won't give a complete review on the sound because I just got them, but there are a few things that I will mention right now.

The mold itself looks and feels like a gigantic demented white gummy bear. There is a little length of plastic tubing that goes over the stem to the opening of the mold just like the foamies, except it is much more pliable. If you go with molds, make sure that either your phones are installed at Westone, or your audiologist knows what s/he is doing, because mine didn't know how to install the drivers. I sat in one of the sound proof booths at the clinic while she went off to install them, and man was the silence deafening! I don't think I've ever heard such a quiet environment in my life...makes you hear all the noises your ears generate on their own. Anyway, sorry to get off topic
, so she came back and she had the drivers dangling by the tubes because she didn't know they were supposed to be sitting inside of the molds themselves! I told her that I thought she did it wrong, and mention that the drivers were supposed to be seated inside the mold...so she then took off one driver and pulled the tube though! Doh! With such a tight fit, it was almost impossible to get the tube back in there. So, save yourself some grief and have the lab do it if possible.
Personally, I'm going to try to take my molds to etymotic to see if they can tweak them a little to make sure it's just right.

Let me tell you guys...these things are NOT that easy to put in!! I'm sure I will get the hang of it sooner or later, but it's definitely not just a plop them in type thing. My molds go about 1cm past the bend in the canal, so you have to do a little "hook and twist" to get the tubular part in your canal, then pull on your ear to get the base to sit in the concha correctly. (The concha is the bowl of your ear) So far, the only comfortable way I can get them in is to use a little water (I did not use water for the triple flange tips). The type of rubber the molds are made of have a lot more friction than the triple flange tips, so if I take them in and out a couple times it causes some discomfort.

Comfort is very good, obviously. Of course, it's not like you don't feel anything at all, because you still have these gobs of rubber stuck in your ears, and well, pretty much any foreign object in your ear is going to make it's presence known.
However, given the depth that these go in, I have to say that it is indeed much more comfortable than the white tips. I definitely think long-term comfort will be much improved, but I've only had them for a few hours (couldn't use them at class obviously
), so it's hard to say at this point. What I don't particularly like is that plastic tubing, because one of the reason why I avoided the foamies was because I hated that sharp feeling of the tube touching the insides of your ear. I took a good scissor and clipped it so it is now recessed, and that seems to be helping a little.

Isolation has improved by quite a bit. I can't give you a numerical value, but I have a hard time hearing people talking to me from about 4 feet away without any music at all, if that gives you an idea. Before, I could hear people talking to me from about 10 feet away quite clearly (without music of course).

Cord and wind noise have decreased dramatically as well. I think it's because the 3/4 of the drivers are seated very snugly inside the base of the mold. I have no air conditioning here, and I'm sitting in front of a box fan on medium as I type listening to these things, and I hear very little wind noise against the music!

Okay, finally a little glimpse of the sound...
I'm going to say right now that it is hard to compare the subtleties of the new sound compared to the old. I simply cannot take off the mold because that would disconnect it from the plastic tube inside. Once the molds are on, they are on permanently. I can only make a few comments on the obvious things I hear so far.

Left-right balance is absolutely spot on. I had an annoyance before with the regular tips that sometimes the balance would be towards either my left or right ear, giving me this sensation that I was listening to a symphony with my head cocked to one side.

Bass actually does seem to have more impact now, strangely enough. A loud timpani feels like a bullet shooting into my ear. And no, I do not listen to loud music! Ghetto-blasters and classical music don't have synergy, if you know what I mean.
I actually have my amp turned 1/5 lower than before I got the molds. I can't say for sure whether low bass response has increased very much, other than the increased isolation lets me hear whats already there more clearly.

Details have increased dramatically. I have a Sibelius/Bernstein recording on sony that has all sorts of chair squeaks, shuffling feet, and at one point, a musician clearing his throat. I can hear it all much more clearly, but that is getting a little too audiophile there.
However, I can now hear the defects of my lenoxx portable cd player. It hisses even with batteries...something I never heard before with the regular tips on my etys. Oh well, it was only $30; can't expect too much.


The tone of the phones seem to have changed a little bit because of the length of tubing after the green filter, but I can't really say how right now. I'm going to keep listening, but again, I'm afraid it is impossible to do an actual A/B comparison unless I had two pairs of etys. I can only go off what I remember, which is getting dangerously into the land of pure subjectivity.


Edit:

Okay, I think I'm getting a little more used to sticking them in now. The left one is a little too fat though making my left ear a little sore around helix lock. (Sorry to use technical terms, I just can't describe it any better. Go to Westone and click on Earmold Info to get a labeled diagram of the ear) I might go back next week and see what they can do to fix it.

More notes on sound:
I think the plastic tubing has definitely jacked up the treble, making it brighter. While listening to Hilary Hahn's Bach Partitas, her violin has become almost unbearibly shrill. Granted, it sounded a little shrill before, but as far as I remember not THIS shrill. I'm contemplating removing the plastic tubes, but I won't touch them for a while, at least not until I get my MG Head.


I also listened to some organ music by Bach, performed by Michael Murray on Telarc. I think I can say for sure now that bass extension is deeper, but it is still the nice tight bass that the regular etys exhibit.

Currently I'm listening to Estampes by Debussy, performed by Alexis Weissenberg on DG. I'm very familiar with this recording, and I'm know very well how a real piano should sound. (My own is a 7' kawai grand, carefully tuned, voiced, and regulated by an excellent technician) Alexis's piano is out of balance it seems, with the upper three octaves excessively louder than the rest of the keyboard. There is no doubt about it, the molds have created some sort of upper-midrange to mid-treble peak.

I'm not too suprised at all of this, actually; I knew getting the molds would be sorta risky. Fuzzy had trouble the first time he got his molds, and now it's my turn. Ugh. I'm going to send some mail to etymotic/westone to see if they can help with this.
 
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Peddler

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Here Here....

My earmoulds are due Friday - I hope it's a positive experience.

Just out of interest - do you (or did you) have a problem with getting the right equalization - do you feel really 'bunged up' with these.

The guy I went to was a real computer buff - spend ten mins getting the moulds made and an hour talking about Flight Simulator and Windows XP.

I'm really looking forward to getting them. I have also purchased (and am still waiting for) an Iriver 2 MP3/CD player. I will post a full review when it happens.
 
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jim

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Peddler, no I don't feel too bunged up with these. You know when you stick the rubbers in really far it gets quiet? Like there is too much pressure in there or something? Well, it doesn't really happen with the molds. Probably because the molds can only go in so far anyway.
However, it still feels plugged up, but in a slightly different way. My molds have a lot of rubber filling up the entire cavity, so they are a lot heavier now. You remember how it felt when the audiologist injected the impression material in your ear? It feels like that.

I sure hope you have a better luck than me with the molds. Make sure your audiologist knows how to install the drivers!! They will come with a long plastic tube going through them. You should insert the stem into the tube and pull it into the countersunk bore from the other side. And make sure the headphones are aligned such that the blue and red things are pointing down. Once they go in , it's a tough to twist them.

I'm seriously thinking about removing this stupid tube entirely. Not only does it prick your ear a little, but these things are waaay too bright. I think that the interaction with the soft rubber will help take off some of the treble glare.
 
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jim

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Oh btw Peddler, who is manufacturing your earmolds? Westone? I just noticed you live in England!
 
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Peddler

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I honestly don't know who are making them. I spoke at length to my local ear doctor dude and he assured me that the lab he was using knew about the Ety's and would ensure that the correct bore was used.

I'm using the Er4P's - hopefully if there is any colouration in the sound it won't have too much effect - only time will tell. I have noticed that the general tone of the headphones can greatly depend on how they're inserted in your ears - I personally feel that there's quite a difference between the foam and the silicone tips as well. I personally prefer the sound of the silicone tips but I do occasionally struggle to get the balance right and have to play around with them for a while before I can get them right.

The total cost of this little exercise is £50. I'm really hoping that it's worth it. One thing that does bother me somewhat is the total deafness to outside sounds when wearing these earmoulds. Although in many ways this is good, I'm going to have to ensure that the telephone is with my wife when I'm wearing them to ensure that I don't miss any calls.
 
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jim

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Peddler,

I just got a mail back from Don, and he says if your molds are made with the plastic tube inserted, you should take the green filter out of the ER-4 and place it at the tip of the earmold. If the filter is too far away from the end of the mold it will create a frequency peak like the one I'm hearing.

I'm going to try to get mine fixed sometime next week. I just too busy with school work right now to do anything about it.

-Jim
 
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Thank's for that info. All being well I should get them tomorrow. Do you mean there's a plastic tube running the length of the earmould. On the example he showed me in the surgery I'm sure I don't remember seeing that.

I would imagine that the plastic (and also the length) may add some colouration to the sound. One thing I really like about my 4P's is the 'mellow' sound I get from them - detailed but not even slightly fatiguing.

Keep this going please - I'm sure there's a lot of Ety owners out there that would like an honest appraisal of the various earmoulds that are available.

When time permits I shall hopefully post some digicam pictures of the moulds so that others can get a more accurate idea of what they look like.

Rick.
 
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jim

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Peddler, if you tell me your e-mail address via PM, I can forward some mails that Don sent me. I would post it here, but I haven't asked Don for permission yet, so I won't. Don REALLY knows his stuff, his mails are very informative!!

Maybe the one you saw has the headroom bore, which has an exponential horn instead of the plastic tube. I asked about it a little while ago on this board, but there were no takers. It ended up that by the time I responded to them to go ahead with the headroom bore, it was already too late.


I don't know how the headroom bore sounds, but Karl Cartwright at Westone Labs tells me that it boosts the high frequencies slightly as well...so I wonder which is the lesser of the two evils.


When I get my filters placed correctly, I'll tell you guys if they improve any.
 
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jim

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Oh yeah, make sure the filters are recessed about 2-3mm into the bore so they don't get clogged with earwax too. Aside from that, I'd hate to feel some metal against the innards of my ear canal. (ouch!)
 
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Of the several makers of the ER-4 earmolds, Westone is the only lab that uses the tube. The other labs feel more capable of drilling the proper size bore.

The earmold process is all done by hand and the quality depends on the ear impressions you have made, and the knowledge and skill level of the person making the mold.

Don Wilson
Etymotic REsearch
 
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Gluegun

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Don,

Who would you reccomend do this in any given area? Is there a company that you all trust that can do this? Where should people in different parts of the world go?
 
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jim

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I guess the answer is that there really isn't any one place you can go. The impressions are made by your local audiologist, and from there they can be sent to any of the earmold labs for manufacture. The local guys do not make the earmolds themselves. I'd say you'd be pretty lucky if you've found an audiologist near you that has already had experience with the etys.
 
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jim

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btw, where'd you go Peddler?


Tell us how they went man!
 
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So, how does one check the credentials of an audiologist for this? And what are some good places to ship a mold to?
 
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