Custom vs non custom
Mar 5, 2010 at 8:43 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25

buddymydog

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I have narrowed my potential choice of custom phones to the Westone es3x, (after much reading and reading and reading and my budget). but I am curious am I gonna get "better" sound with the custom as opposed to just getting a sennheiser ie8 non custom, or even having molds made for the ie8 ear tips ?

I am sure customs will be potentially more comfortable, but is the sound any more potentially engaging then non-customs even if you get a good seal?

I am curious for opinions of anyones experience for the first time after getting your customs and your comparisons between customs vs noncustoms

for example: you own some ie8's or shure se 530's and then you got some ue11's or es3x's customs
 
Mar 5, 2010 at 8:53 PM Post #2 of 25
I have some of the best universal-fit IEMs here. That said, I also have the Ultimate Ears UE4 Pro here (entry-level custom IEM). To my ears, none of the universal-fit IEMs I have here can match the UE4 Pro overall sonically. There's just something--some clear sonic advantages, to my ears--that come with a well-executed bespoke IEM.

Downsides? If you don't like a particular custom, it's not exactly the easiest thing to remedy, as the custom nature of it makes resale a bit more challenging. Also, there's a little more work (including, say, fifty extra bucks for the impressions) to get set up for customs--and you want to do all you can to find an audiologist who knows exactly what you're looking for (in terms of impression), and how to give you that.

Customs also have the advantage of being more comfortable (again, to my ears). They require little to no outward pressure against the ear canal to achieve isolation, whereas that's exactly how a universal-fit IEM achieves its isolation. (Although some universal-fit IEMs--like the Klipsch Image X10--are so barely there feeling that they can give customs a run in terms of comfort.)
 
Mar 6, 2010 at 3:28 AM Post #6 of 25

jussssss

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if you do get custom tips made, you will only end up getting customs after so you might as well go straight to custom :p
 
Mar 6, 2010 at 4:04 AM Post #7 of 25

ethan961

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The ES3X would be far superior to the IE8, if that was your plan. Entirely different sound signatures too AFAIK.
 
Mar 7, 2010 at 5:14 AM Post #8 of 25

buddymydog

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I am going with the es3x, I got a quote so far of 900.00 (thats everything) I am going to call more audiologists on monday to see if they are all in the same ballpark. Oh and how do you grow out of a custom? are we talking 5 years? 10 years? and is their something you can do about it? can you have new molds made and reshell it?
 
Mar 7, 2010 at 8:22 AM Post #9 of 25

mesasone

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I would also be interested in knowing how long (aproximately) a custom fit is good for.

Also, you certainly could get them reshelled - I don't know if the manufacturers do it, but I know there are a couple of other companies that do - namely Fisher Hearing in Florida, USA and Unique Melody in China. There are threads about both companies floating around here.
 
Dec 24, 2010 at 1:43 AM Post #11 of 25

QuantumXL

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lol. Well universals are ones that you can go to best buy or ear solutions and stick in your ears and run with them. Customs are built for your ear and your ear only? If you are asking that question in terms of sound quality, if you ever tried universals and you have them partially in, you will notice that a LOT of the low end of the spectrum drops off the graph. You don't notice it because there is no seal. Having the universal in all the way doesn't FULLY insure full isolation, but it gives you a significant amount of sound so its not that bad. Customs FULLY isolate your ear as much as they can. Significantly better then universals. So that they sonically sound better and able to drive all the sound they can produce straight into your ear.
 
Dec 24, 2010 at 11:21 AM Post #12 of 25

JackKontney

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Jude and QuantumXL have it right. Properly executed customs, with a deep fit beyond the second bend of the ear canal, provide superior isolation. More isolation means a higher signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio -- the equivalent of a stereo system with a lower noise floor. The brilliance of custom earphones is that they actually buy you better signal integrity on a purely physical/mechanical level, without altering with the electroacoustic circuitry. So, all things being equal, a good custom will provide more sonic impact at the same volume level when compared to an otherwise identical universal design. (Alternately, you can achieve the same sonic impact at lower/safer volume levels, which is critical for audio professionals like sound engineers and touring musicians.)
 
The middle ground to be wary of is customs that don't feature deep-insertion design. These are beloved by some because they are very easy to pop in, but do not (generalizing here) provide the full benefit that maximum isolation provides, usually compensating with an extra bass driver and/or high sensitivity.
 
The benefit of a more comfortable fit is certainly significant, especially if the earphones are made of medical-grade silicone like Sensaphonics and ACS.
 
Dec 24, 2010 at 11:40 AM Post #13 of 25

JackKontney

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Quote:
I am going with the es3x, I got a quote so far of 900.00 (thats everything) I am going to call more audiologists on monday to see if they are all in the same ballpark. Oh and how do you grow out of a custom? are we talking 5 years? 10 years? and is their something you can do about it? can you have new molds made and reshell it?

 
You only "outgrow" customs if the size/shape of your ear canal changes -- most typically by putting on (or taking off) a significant amount of weight. If your ear canals remain stable, a good pair of customs will last a long time. Sensaphonics (a client of mine) has customers who are still using their original 2X-S earphones, purchased a full 10 years ago and used constantly. When you look at it in terms of annual cost of ownership, that's a pretty good deal.
 
Committing to customs is a big deal because it takes you off the usual trade/upgrade path followed by many here. But the idea of "outgrowing" them is IMHO often overstated.
 
Dec 24, 2010 at 3:03 PM Post #14 of 25

Danz03

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Personally, I think what's good about Custom IEMs is also what's bad about them, from my experience of owning various IEMs from IE8 to UE18. With universals, if you don't like the sound signature, there are always ways to tune them to your liking somehow, by way of using different tips, or with the depth of insertion into the ear canals etc. (that's the reason why the good ones always come with so many different types of tips.) Whereas with customs, if they were molded correctly with a good fit, you are kind of stuck with the sound signature they come with, and they are much harder to sell if you don't like them. The worst thing is, you don't even know if you like them or not until they are molded.
 
Dec 24, 2010 at 4:25 PM Post #15 of 25

Soundmangt4

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I have some UE TF-10's, and they sound great, but when I had some custom tips made up for them by ACS, the sound quality and comfort took a huge step forward. The way the isolation, consistency and general sound quality improved is amazing, and you really can tell that the sound is completely unrestricted in getting to your ear drums and not being muffled or coloured in any way is so impressive. 
After my experience, the next earphones I get will only be full on customs, although I feel the UE TF-10's with custom tips should last me a fair while! 
 

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