What are custom in-ear monitors?
Essentially custom in-ear monitors are, as the title suggests, custom made earphones that are moulded to the shape of your ear. Everyone’s ears are different, and to really achieve the most comfortable fit, along with the best isolation, you have to go down the custom route.
Where to start?
So, you are thinking about going down the custom route, first up is the usual research and reading of reviews to shortlist some potential models. The custom industry has grown massively in the last few years, and they are no longer reserved for touring musicians, and there are easily as many audiophile models as there are pro-audio models now.
A few of the main brands are:
- 64 Audio
- JH Audio
- Ultimate Ears
- Empire Ears
- Cosmic Ears
- Custom Art
Once you have shortlisted some, it is worth looking to see if anywhere near you has demo models you can go and try out. As once you have the custom version, you won’t be able to return them.
Next you will need to get some ear impressions done, this is one of the most important parts of the process, due to this we would advise you spend a little more and get them done by someone who is highly qualified in taking ear impressions for musicians. Alternatively most brands will have a list of recommended audiologists, the process is not painful, but it is a bit odd if you have never had it done before.
First, they will check your ear canals are clean enough to take the impressions, and then they will insert a foam stopper past the 2nd bend of your ear canal. Then a 2-part silicone mixture is mixed and inserted into a syringe. You are usually given a bite block to take an open mouth impression (recommended for custom monitors) and the mixture is then injected into your ear and fully filling the outer part too. The silicone takes about 5-10 minutes to cure, then the impression will be removed and you are done.
Now you have your impressions, it’s time to design your monitors (or vice versa)
To be fair, you can order your monitors and then get ear impressions, either way the end result is the same. It is however best to send the impressions sooner rather than later as they do change if kept in storage, reducing the likelihood of getting a good fit the first time round.
You can go on to most manufacturers websites and design your monitors with their online design tools, these are great fun to use and the number of options varies depending on the brand. A lot of them also allow you to upload artwork if you want a specific logo on them. Take your time and make sure you pick a design you love. There are companies like Custom Art that are happy to surprise you if you don’t know what design to go for, they do some incredible pieces.
Now the wait…..
Your customs arrive, you are keen to try them out, but wait, how do they fit in?
Most brands include a leaflet to help you, but there is a technique to inserting custom monitors, you have to twist them in until they lock into place. Here is a great guide on the fitment of Custom monitors: https://theheadphonelist.com/custom-in-ear-monitors-fit-guide/
Now you have your own unique earphones that with some care will last you years and give you excellent sound quality, along with increased isolation and comfort when compared to universal models. Happy listening!