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Custom In-Ear Monitors
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I have custom ear plugs for riding that i bought at a convention/event so i am familiar with the fitting process (i still wouldn't know where to go if i wanted to do it again). I also understand the performance benefits of IEMs achieving 'perfect' seal vs maybe not so perfect universals. There were times this year i thought about pulling the trigger on CIEM and these are things that i thought of that prevented a purchase:
There are many new manufacturers and models. Balanced armatures and dynamics and multiple drivers. Don't know what any of this stuff sounds like before i drop big $. I might be able to go to a store and audition/demo $3,000 Stax at least before i buy. Need to know that my custom product could be serviced in the future if something went wrong. Stax highly reputable and been around long time for example. I have had mixed experiences (borrowed or bought) with universal IEMS, some are just bad and some are acceptable/good - i wouldn't have had any idea if i didnt try it universally first. I would feel more comfortable getting a custom version of a universal IEM that i liked.
Another issue is the inconvenience of dealing with multiple parties/vendors to complete the transaction (massdrop purchase, going to impression maker, finding time to ship impressions to manufacturer, getting shipped from manufacturer that might not even be in this country, massdrop to ultimate customer). Personally i'd rather deal with one person to get the impression done and pick it up when it's ready in person. This is a personalized product.
Not sure what the solution is at this point.
I've been wanting to get a set of custom earplugs myself for travel. (Stay tuned for your last concern ;) )
Try going local, you can audition universal versions of most CIEMS, possibly get an impression there, and pick it up there. Unless you don't live close enough, then most manufacturers will let you get a test kit.