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Ultimate Ears did my impressions twice and I still had fit issues. Unlucky ears?
My EE IEMs are undoubtedly the best-fitting customs I own. I've used two audiologists thus far in Singapore, and I've been significantly luckier with one than I've been with the other. I made my first ever CIEM based on impressions from Digisound and the CIEMs came back slightly too small. Every CIEM I've purchased ever since have been from Music Sanctuary with impressions made at The Hearing Centre. Every single custom since then has fit perfectly. Echoing what others have said, the audiologist plays a major role in determining a good fit, and I'd recommend sending them another pair of impressions from a reputable audiologist if the issues are that persistent.
But, with that said, based on my experience on multiple CIEM threads on Head-Fi, there are individuals with non-agreeable ears who just can't catch a break with custom in-ears. I'd recommend giving it another shot with a fresh set of impressions before you reconsider CIEMs entirely.
I agree that no CIEM maker can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear (i.e. good-fitting CIEMs out of bad impressions), but it does seem possible that some people may have ear canals that taper in a way that promotes easier slippage, or ear canals that change shape more, in relation to jaw movement (thus increasing seal breakage), than other people's do.
More than anything else, though, I suspect mediocre impressions to be quite common, around the globe, unfortunately, especially since the specific requirements for CIEM impressions are not the same as the specific requirements for hearing aid impressions. There may be a temptation for some audiologists to assume that several years experience of doing hearing aid impressions automatically makes them experts at taking impressions for CIEMs, but it's the 10% of difference between the two impression types that makes all the difference to the probability of a successful CIEM fit.
And then there are some unscrupulous CIEM makers who will blame an audiologist for bad impressions, even when the blame lies very squarely at the feet of one of their own CIEM lab technicians (sadly, I am speaking from direct experience of this), but I doubt EE would play that game.
I know many of the people reading this EE thread are old hands at CIEMs, but for anyone reading this who's a newcomer, there's a thread, here on Head-Fi (not specifically endorsed by EE), to offer a few helpful hints to people going for their first ever set of CIEM impressions:
Might be worth familiarising oneself with that thread, in preparation for new CIEMs being announced in the very near future, by Jack and his team!
Oh, and also check: empireears.com/ear-impressions/ (.pdf version)
Incidentally, it's nice to see that EmpireEars specifically request high-viscosity silicone. I've had high-viscosity impressions done (flourescent green 'Dreve Otoform') and they were nice and firm (but not too firm). For other pairs of CIEMs, I had some pink impressions done (UK), and some blue (USA) , and I was surprised at how much softer the blue and the pink silicone was, in comparison to the green Dreve Otoform silicone. I remember thinking, at the time, that I wished they were firmer, to make life easier for the technician modeling them at the CIEM lab. I don't know what brands the pink and blue silicones were, and I am not implying that the only high-viscosity silicone is green - it's just that green Dreve Otoform happens to be a very good high-viscosity option, in my experience. And if you need a bit more motivation: www.head-fi.org/threads/home-made-iems.430688/page-291#post-12304352
My educated Guess for official release would be after Canjam NYC 2018
By far the best service I have had from a CIEM maker after I had several fit issues is Vision Ears. After slight adjustements failed, I sent new prints for full reshell, and they first send me empty shells of various thickness to test the fit, and then do the actual custom. Awesome.
That's fantastic. Amin and Marcel are stand-up lads.
So after a little over a year with my beloved Spartan ADELs (B1 modules), they were stolen recently while I was traveling...
Which brings me to my next question... how do I replace them?
I really enjoyed them, but also felt they could be slightly too "thin" or "hollow" for my tastes at times, but I am sort of married to the idea of ADEL after being able to use my Spartans for hours on end without fatigue. Would the Athena ADELs (absolute top of my budget) be a reasonable replacement to bring some richness or thickness, while keeping a similar resolution and clarity?
Sorry for the potentially unclear descriptions... I'm not great at technically explaining my audio preferences!
That's really unfortunate, man. The Athena-ADEL would be a reasonable choice, but I must warn you that it might not bring you the warmth you desire. It is an IEM with body and heft, but the principles of ADEL remain the same; a scoop in the lower-midrange makes even the Athena a somewhat bright IEM in tone. Its treble isn't harsh by any means, it just has a light and airy atmosphere to it, even with the bodied notes. I'd recommend getting the Athena-ADEL and pairing it with 64Audio's APEX modules. I don't know how it will affect pressure and fatigue, but I find APEX modules more coherent and linear with the Athena than, say, the G1 module. The B1 is somewhat in between the G1 and the APEX in terms of signature though, so you should be good on that front.
Thanks for the reply Deezel!
I'm not sure warmth was the most accurate term for what I'm wanting (I'll edit my initial post!)... maybe a thicker or richer sound, perhaps the body and heft you mention! I listen to a lot of rock and I felt that sometimes the drums and guitars weren't carrying enough weight! It sounds like the inclusion of ADEL may be a limiting factor for these properties though.
I have a friend who's an audiologist. She has MS like I do and we speak very openly. She read the EE paper on impressions and had to reschedule me to order a fresh set of the material EE want's. She said that they impressions came out great. I did the bit block horizontally as they all said. I was sitting in a chair, not a recliner as I'm walking around a bit. I'm hoping that my jaw was in proper position. Praying they work as these are my first CIEM's and I wanted them as I don't love the tips I always end up using, lol.
IMO, one of the big factors in getting good impressions is to make sure your jaw is relaxed whilst the silicone is curing - this can be a bit counter-intuitive when there is a bite-block in the mouth, as one unconsciously tends to automatically exert some bite pressure on the block. But, with deliberate focus (maybe even a little practice before the appointment), it's very easy to keep those jaw muscles relaxed
Just remember that the first times you’ll use the new ciem you’ll find some discomfort that is absolutely normal for a ciem. Get use how to insert and remove them from your ear.
It took me a couple of weeks to get use of my first pair of ciem, it’s not a natural sensation to have a nozzle inserted so deep in your ear canal!
Please refer to my email response I sent you. As for your sound preferences, I would recommend waiting a short while for our new products to release, as you may find that there will be something there to meet your needs!
If I understand this correctly, are you sending in new impressions aside from the ones I have now? The ones you already sent have great full coverage of the inner and outer ear, and are very useable.
For those who are interested, just posted my long-overdue review of the Athena over on the other blog I write on - it's pretty lengthy (8000 words!) but I think these little beauties are worth it.
TL;DR - beautifully musical sound, smooth as buttered butter and deserves to be talked about more when people are discussing the heavyweight contenders in the c. $1000 price bracket.
Thanks to @Jack Vang for suggesting them at Canjam London last year (wow, that feels like a long time ago) - finally managed to put them down long enough to write some proper descriptions! Looking forward to hearing about all the new gear you guys have coming out whenever the ball finally drops - exciting time to be following this thread!
EDIT: Working link now updated above - thanks to Ethan for the heads-up!