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Author Topic: Which custom in-ear monitors?  (Read 4057 times)

Kristo Kotkas

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Which custom in-ear monitors?
« on: November 16, 2015, 11:49:13 am »

I haven't really looked into the subject for years now and it appears like there are too many custom in-ear companies out there today :D What are the popular brands top acts and engineers tend to use these days? And is it different for US and EU artists?
« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 07:18:51 pm by Kristo Kotkas »
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2015, 01:09:17 pm »

I'm fond of Sensaphonics.  Due to the soft silicone these use which is really comfortable for extended wear, and that they use selected, licensed audiologists to do the molds who know how to compensate for jaw movement and tune the mold and cavity correctly.
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brian maddox

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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2015, 02:58:47 pm »

I haven't really looked into the subject for years now and it appears like there are too many custom in-ear companies out there today :D What are the popular brands top acts and engineers tend to use these days? And is it different for US and EU artists?

Well known professional companies that make custom IEMs include:

Ultimate Ears
Sensaphonics
FutureSonics
JH Audio
Westone

A couple of new smaller companies that i've personally heard good things about.

AlClair [full disclosure i'm an endorser]
1964 Ears

Couple more i've not personally heard much about:

AlienEars
ACS Custom

There are many more i'm sure....



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Erik Jerde

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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2015, 05:34:53 pm »

I haven't really looked into the subject for years now and it appears like there are too many custom in-ear companies out there today :D What are the popular brands top acts and engineers tend to use these days? And is it different for US and EU artists?

What are you using them for?  If you're mixing monitors for a specific artist then you want to have something that most closely matches what they have so you can better monitor their mix.  If it's for yourself then that's a different thing entirely.

I don't work with a specific artist so I got Alclair RSM Quad IEMs.  I live near Alclair so I was able to go to their shop and demo the models I was interested in which was real nice.  I could hear big differences between the models I was interested in. 

I use them as reference monitors and when possible I have them on an IEM pack fed by PFL2 with L/R as the no-solo source.  In rooms where the mix position is less than ideal this gives me a good reference source.  Of course I have to make sure they accurately represent what's going on in the room too.  When mixing mons from FOH I can throw the pack in cue mode and then step between house mix and the various artist mixes.  This lets me help sort out problematic mixes quickly and easily.  I find I can get in and out of the ears quick and the sound quality is so much better than cans that it's a good system.

Edit:

Forgot to add, the longest I've worn my IEMs was near continuous when flying Seattle to Hong Kong and then back.  I think that was something along the lines of 13 hours.  They were starting to get uncomfortable near the end of the flight.  So yes, they are super comfortable even with harder plastic when the fit is right.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 06:31:43 pm by Erik Jerde »
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Steven Eudaly

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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2015, 06:16:59 pm »

As others have said, tons of good options. If you are often working with others using a specific brand, go with that option for consistency sake.

I usually working one-offs so I just went with what fit my needs at a fair price. A rep I work with often carried Westone, so I went that route. I've had my ES50s for about a year and love them. Wish I would have taken the plunge much sooner.

I previously used standard headphones when working with IEM artists, and that had obvious shortcomings, so getting customs made me a much better engineer in these circumstances.  Now, even when I'm only mixing wedges, once the band is in a good place, I pop in my ears and dial up my own mix. Keeps me listening to the band without exposing myself to the stage volume.

Added bonus, they're also great for mowing the lawn.

James Rowe

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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2015, 06:25:48 pm »

You need the one's that ride on broomsticks, get burnt at the stake etc.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2015, 10:18:33 am by James Rowe »
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Jamin Lynch

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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2015, 06:46:01 pm »

I haven't really looked into the subject for years now and it appears like there are too many custom in-ear companies out there today :D What are the popular brands top acts and engineers tend to use these days? And is it different for US and EU artists?

It all depends on how much you want to spend
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2015, 06:58:59 pm »

You need the one's that ride on broomsticks, get burn at the stake etc.

 ;D
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Kristo Kotkas

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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2015, 07:13:42 pm »

It all depends on how much you want to spend

I need them for myself as an performer, and as an engineer, I need to get a band or maybe couple of them from standard models onto customs.

I would say money is no issue, at the same time I'm wondering if all these companies really create the transducers and filters in-house, I doubt that, so if they or some of them use same components then paying extra for a label is not what I would insist doing.

I did some googling and the number of manufacturers I came up with in fairly short period of time is astonishing, and I didn't even go into the "chinese" part of this business that seems to be huge as well. I'll drop a quick list of the links I found just so that someone also interested in the current situation can find them quicker here:


http://www.1964ears.com/ < Canada
http://www.uniquemelodyshop.com/ < China (not working?)
http://www.uniquemelody.co.uk/ < UK branch (not accepting orders?)
http://www.custom-iem.com/ <
http://cosmicears.eu/ < Sweden
http://www.earsonics.com/ < France
http://www.sensaphonics.jp/ < Japan
http://www.sensaphonics.com/ < USA
http://www.westone.com/ < USA
http://ambient-acoustics.com.ua/ < Ukraine
http://earinc.com/hearing-products/markets/music/stageperformance/ < USA
http://www.earsound.com/ < USA
http://www.fidelitycustomearphones.net/ < USA
http://www.futuresonics.com/ < USA
http://www.alienears.com/ < USA
http://www.jhaudio.com/ < USA
http://www.mylivewires.com/ < USA
http://www.sleek-audio.com/ < USA
http://www.ultimateears.com/en-us/ < USA
http://www.rhines-customs.de/ < Germany
http://www.vision-ears.de/english/ < Germany
http://www.earsonics.com/ < France
http://fitear.jp/proaudio/ < Japan
http://alclair.com/ < USA
http://acscustom.com/uk/ < UK
http://www.variphone.com/en/category/elite-series < Westone to EU
http://www.earpower.it/Home.html < Italy
http://pi-pensioninvest.com/indexengl.html < Germany
http://www.spiralear.com/en/index.html < Poland
http://www.limeears.com/ < Poland
http://www.null-audio.com/ < Singapore
http://www.eartechmusic.com/ < USA
http://gorillaears.com/ < USA
https://www.cleartunemonitors.com/ < USA
http://www.inearz.com/ < USA
http://dreamearz.com/
http://www.trytunz.com/musicians.html
http://www.advancedears.com/ < USA
http://www.earwerkz.com/ < USA
http://plungeaudio.com/

Who's interested in Chinese stuff might find this as interesting read, over thousand pages of posts: http://www.head-fi.org/t/684159/chinese-asian-brand-info-thread-headphones-iems-amps-dacs
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brian maddox

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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2015, 07:24:41 pm »

I need them for myself as an performer, and as an engineer, I need to get a band or maybe couple of them from standard models onto customs.

I would say money is no issue, at the same time I'm wondering if all these companies really create the transducers and filters in-house, I doubt that, so if they or some of them use same components then paying extra for a label is not what I would insist doing.

Almost nobody is creating components in house.  Nearly everyone is using Balanced Armature Drivers in various combinations.  Futuresonics uses a proprietary Dynamic driver.  There are a couple of others that i've seen that have hybrids of both approaches [ACS?].

Ultimately your buying build quality and customer service.  Most companies have multiple models to choose from and they all sound a bit different from each other.  I've used nearly all the models that Alcalair makes and settled on RSM Quads as my final resting place since they are the 'flattest' model i could find.  of course, YMMV.

Custom IEMs are a tough one to shop for.  Everyone swears that their brand and model is the best, [including me, frankly].  Truth is few of us have actually tried a broad sampling of units from different manufacturers owing to the custom nature of the product.  Personally i've used models from two different manufacturers and about 7 different models total, and i still don't consider that to be anything like a broad sample set.

Again, i went with my choice based on customer service experience, value, and build quality.  And I'm happy with my choice.  That in no way means that all the others wouldn't be just as good, if not better....
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Re: Witch custom in-ear monitors?
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2015, 07:24:41 pm »


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