Motorcyclist wants: 1) Great Sound 2) Not to be killed
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Nick B

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Greetings Learned Forum:

Because I did not want to get too OT in the E4/SF5 thread, I thought I would break this issue out into its own thread and welcome your coments. I ride a motorcycle and use a full face helmet. I have always worn ear protection, starting with foam inserts and eventually, had custom molds made. I figured that as long as I was attenuating the outside noise, I might as well replace it with some good tunes.

I tried various earbud style phones, but they never sat far enough inside my ear canals so as to not be pulled out by the snug fitting helmet going on. Eventually, I had another set of ear molds made that were drilled out and I inserted Sony plugs into them.

They worked well enough (not quality sound though). I could still hear loud noises while riding, such as horns and trucks. I live in a very rural area, and the vast majority of my riding is on two lane country roads. In the prior thread, people expressed concerned over the use of canal phones on a motorcycle. The alternative, I assume, are phones that do not attenuate outside noise. Unfortunately, the defeats my original purpose of hearing protection. It would only add more noise that would be in a contest with the already really loud road noise. I think if used judiciously, canal phones can safely be used on a motorcycle. I welcome your comments and differing points of view.

As far as which canal phones to use, I am quickly learning that there are some phones that are automatically off the list because of how far they physically protrude outside of the ear. This is a big consideration for me, since my helmet fits flush against my ears. So looking at phones that protrude minimally, which offer the best sound? From reading others' discriptions and given my personal financial circumstances, I was quite interested in the E4/SF 5 debate. Both of these phones seemed to fit the bill sonically. Unfortunately, they seem to out of the running when it comes to squeezing a helmet over them.

As always, I greatly appreciate your opinions and expertise. Thank you.

Nick B
 
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vranswer

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Nick,

I've been riding for nearly 30 years and agree with you that noise attenuation is critical for hearing preservation on a bike. You'll probably see this thread deteriorate to the usual debate over safety, but hopefully not. I listen to music while riding 80-90% of the time, and use my eyes to avoid mishaps. It's worked all those years without incident, it's just a vigilance you learn and apply as you know.

Options for 'under helmet' earphone application:
Shure E5 - sounds best, costs most
Shure E2 - sounds OK, costs quite a bit less than above
Koss Plugs - sound nowhere near like either above, but cheap

None of the above protrude out of the ear so as to get in the way of tight helmet. Ety ER6(i) appear to fall in that category as well, but I've never used them.
 
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Nick B

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Thanks for your reply, Vranswer. You hit the nail on the head with the E5. I would love a pair, but just can't pull it off financially. And let's take the Koss plugs off the table right now! After reading all about the Sure E4C, I don't know how happy I would be with the E2s. But given my financial and helmet constraints, it may be the best choice. Can anyone else suggest some low profile canalphones that don't break the bank (ie. >$250)? Thanks again for your replies.

Nick B
 
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Kenny12

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the er-6 are really good, i would personally take them over shures also bit more comfortable

i've got / heard

e2c / e3c / er-6 / er-4 / apple in ear and this is the sound peference

er-4
er-6
e3c
apple in ear / e2c
 
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Nick B

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I'm curious, Kenny. You like the er-4 over the er-6? Why?
 
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grawk

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Because with etys, the ER4s are the top of the line...
 
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gerG

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My first choice would be the Shure E3 or E3c. Ultra low profile, and low chance of being forced into the canal in an accident (an important consideration). I prefer the sound of the Ety ER4, but they will interfere with the helmet more.

Another consideration: set up an easy to reach pause button on yuor source. There will be times when you want to stop the music and listen. Intersections in particular. It may not seem like it, but adding the music in does mask out a lot of outside sound.

Issue 2: bass response. Even with high isolation canal phones, road noise still eats up the bass response. You will be wanting some sort of bass boost. This will allow listening at lower overall levels without feeling that something is missing.


Good luck.

gerG
 
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ILikeMusic

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For use on a motorcycle sound isolation is extremely important in order to protect your hearing... at least 20-25 dB is required to protect again long-term exposure to the noise level encountered on most motorcycles with more being better. This leaves the ER-4 and ER-6 or 6i (the Shure phones are good but do not have enough isolation for this application.) Since the ER-4 stick out way too much to be practical for use under a helmet that leaves the ER-6i... a very good choice.
 
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vranswer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ILikeMusic
For use on a motorcycle sound isolation is extremely important in order to protect your hearing... at least 20-25 dB is required to protect again long-term exposure to the noise level encountered on most motorcycles with more being better. This leaves the ER-4 and ER-6 or 6i (the Shure phones are good but do not have enough isolation for this application.) Since the ER-4 stick out way too much to be practical for use under a helmet that leaves the ER-6i... a very good choice.


Agree with above, except that one can also factor in at least some noise attenuation offered by the helmet itself. Most modern helmets provide a small amount of sound insulation exactly for the purpose of hearing protection. I think the Shures are still viable, although the Futuresonics mentioned above fit the criteria too. Haven't heard them but they look just like the Koss Plugs, which I know from experience work well with a helmet.
 
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catscratch

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I'm pretty sure the ER-4P/S would stick out far too much. If you can, get the Westone UM2; they can be found for $275-$340; it's a great-sounding canalphone and has a very low profile. Ultimately, you'd want something custom-molded, like the UE 5 Pro, but that will definitely break the bank.

I fully agree that noise attentuating canalphones are the way to go in your situation. Safety or no safety, you will preserve your hearing and be able to enjoy music and much quieter volumes than you would otherwise be able to.
 
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Nick B

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Thank you so much for your responses. Oh, if I only had the $$$, I'd order the Westones and be done with it! But that is not the case, so I have to compromise.

Catscratch, I really liked what I have heard about the UE 5 pros, but I was told they would protrude too far for helmet use. Their price of $250 is my outer limit, but still do-able. If the concensus is that they can work under a helmet, I will get them.

If not, here is a list of the low profile phones that have been suggested:

1. Sure E2
2. Sure E3
3. Sure E3C
4. FutureSonic/Sennheiser IE3/IM3
5. Etymotic ER-4
6. Etymotic ER-6

I know how difficult it is to rank, and I know how subjective it is, but this forum was RIGHT ON THE MONEY regarding my full sized cans (Senn 595s..love 'em!). So please give it a shot.

If you don't feel comfortable with a ranking of outright SQ, how about bass? I love good bass, and with all of the wind and road noise, subtlety will be lost with my application. Thank you all.

Nick B
 
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catscratch

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Actually, I was talking about the custom-molded UE 5 Pro's, not the super-fi's. They retail for $550, and don't protrude at all. However, if that's not an option, why not stretch the budget to $275 and see if you can find a pair of UM2's? They would really be ideal. You can find a pair used for less than that.

As far as the rankings go, I've only heard the ER-4 from that list. They won't give you very good bass, especially since I assume outside noise won't be completely reduced but only partially attenuated, and will overpower the bass on a lot of tracks. The ER-4P is ideal for classical music, but for rock and electronic, it's too bright, at least to my ears.

I would say that the EM3 probably has the best bass, since it uses a dynamic driver rather than a balanced armature. Balanced armatures have problems with frequency extension, and a single-drivered canalphone will have a hard time replicating both upper treble and deep bass; if you want to get good bass out of balanced armatures, you have to use a dual-driver design like the UM2. Dynamic drivers should be free from that particular problem - but they'll have problems in other areas, specifically clarity and detail.

I would say the EM3 is your best bet, but I would strongly encourage you to find a used or new pair of UM2's first.
 
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Nick B

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Hey Catscratch, thanks for the reply. I just googled the UM2s. Not many places carry them, and they all stand at $329, plus shipping. Definitely out of my comfort level. Time to re-evaluate the EM3s. BTW, if anyone knows of anyone wanting to sell used UM2s, please let me know. Thanks.

Nick B
 
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wakked1

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I went through this and kinda gave up myself, the Arai is way too snug for anything to survive head insertion. I just use disposable foam plugs and sing to myself.. total cost: a buck or two a month?
 
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Nick B

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Sorry, wakked, but I've tasted the honey. My Sony/custom molds did the trick for a couple of years. No problem getting them under the helmet (I have an Arai as well). It was awsome to have tunes while riding. There is simply no putting this genie back in the bottle....

Nick B
 
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