Zip, ziiiip, wiiiiii, a mosquito. Chuka chuka chuka katakatatata, the Tsukuba Express plowing back to Akihabara. Click click click, my evil shoe-wearing neighbours on the eighth floor dancing up a spell. Summer’s heat amplifies each sound. So does after-work debauchery. So does Arcade Fire. And Markus Schulz’ Progression, Vibrasphere’s Lungs of Life, etc. and so on. Especially at the wee hours of 0:00 to 5:00. I get on fine after that. There goes my sleep. And whereas sometimes, screwing earphones into my ears helps me zone out and catch some zzz’s, screwing in the fabulous, new FitEar To Go! 334 zones me in, like never before. Hello Music!
It’s nice to meet you, I’m shigzeo, zombie.
In 2009, Sleek Audio officially released the CT6, their first custom earphone. At its introductory price of 300$, the single driver earphone dominated the budget custom earphone world with great sound and a slew of innovations at a great price point. A LOT has happened since then, and while the CT6 remains a great earphone, it has been outclassed by newcomers. Naturally, Sleek Audio couldn’t leave it at the top of their portfolio. Enter the CT7, a completely redesigned custom iem sporting dual drivers, higher sensitivity, better artwork, and one of the rawest, fastest, most impressive sounds I’ve heard at any price.
Recently, I Hanseled my way around CES 2011 looking for a place to sit. On my quest to find a comfy chair, I managed to lose myself under a pile of crumby marketing handouts, and half naked girls dancing to show off the features of a … wired router. Amid crappy tablets and massage chairs, I also managed to find Sonomax‘s booth and discover what I think is the coolest thing to come out of CES: 4-minute custom earphones. Originally, my mate said this Canadian company were batting with a custom earphone that is fully cured in 20 hours and sets in 4 minutes. Hmmm, I thought, that reminds me of SoundCage, a company that made a 20-minute custom a few years ago, and that is also from Canada. Well, it turns out that the SoundCage I discovered whilst getting impressions for the Sleek Audio CT6, and Sonomax are either good mates, or better bedfellows.
Feel free to discuss Sonomax products in our forums.
Earsonics have a killer lineup. Their SM3 professional universal monitor is fantastic, blowing the socks off a disgustingly large portion of the audiophile earphone market with its easy-to-drive architecture and beautiful sound. Its lofty price tag is worth it. So how about Earsonics’ top end; how ‘bout their customs? you might ask. Same old story. The triple-driver, dual-crossover EM3Pro is a beautiful product at a fantastic[er] price that should come away from a firefight with the biggest and best in the land without a hitch.
Noise-isolating earphones are hitting mainstream, and that’s a good thing. Apple and nearly every other digital audio manufacturer in the world distribute their phones and digital devices with open earbuds that not only sound crap, but that ruin ears on short order. The volume of an earphone has to rise 8-9 decibels above ambient noise to be heard. To be enjoyed, however, music has to be punched much louder. Using open earphones on the bus, in the tube, or about town is the perfect recipe for destroying your hearing.
Last year, Etymotics introduced custom-fit ear pieces for their popular line of noise-isolating earphones and headsets, but other companies offer custom-fit ear pieces for a variety of earphones.
Ever been so enamoured by a new gadget that you take it to bed wrapped in your favourite dainties? I have. My lecherous fingers have caressed many pieces of technology, late into the night. But until now, they’ve been trained on MD players and really high tech shoes and my iPod touch 2G. I’ve tickled the ACS’ T1, an earphone whose quality belies its silicon shell, far into the dark night. Its sultry curves, great bone structure, and whip-strong cable cry to be handled in a Wash-like ‘manly fashion’.
For all photos and discussion of this ACS T1 Review, head to our forums.
The q-Jays is already a wonderful earphone full of details and space. But Jays aim to make it even better with a new service: custom silicon ear moulds for their current top-of-the-line earphone. Unlike other manufacturers, Jays will make use of silicon rather than acrylic. This ostensibly affords listeners and performers better isolation and comfort than traditional acrylic moulds. Jays’s partner is Bellman & Symfon AB, a Swedish hearing protection company, to bring audiophiles and professionals alike, a kick apps in-ear system. Feel free to discuss the Jays launch handcrafted ear moulds for q-Jays earphones in our forums.
Piccies and more after the gap:
Sensaphonics are a virtual monolith in the American professional/musician earphone business. Their hitherto bread and butter, 2X-s and Max are excellent custom earphones for professionals and audiophiles alike. While TMA is still working on the 2X-s review, Sensaphonics one-upped us by introducing their newest, the triple-driver 3XMax. The new earphone shares many similarities to its older brother: both earphones are housed in medical-grade silicon which isn’t susceptible to the horrors of cracking whilst in the ear. And, mirroring last year’s 2X-s upgrade, it touts a field-replaceable cable for added insurance. Of course, the addition of an extra driver will aid dynamic range and accuracy in musical reproduction.
More after the gap:
The world of earphones has been ripped asunder by the ‘driver war’ which is now sillier than the blade war which rears its ugly head in between French handball goals on TV. Today, models which boast 8 drivers roam the prototypical plains in the underbellies of inventive manufacturers – and mark my words, that number will only climb. On the heals of the Jerry Harvey JH13Pro, the Fitear Private 333 will expose another niche, another customer base, and another sound among custom earphones. This time, the badge of honour (other than “made in Japan”) which the 333 proudly wears, is that of ‘fun’. Indeed, this custom is somewhat of a departure from the more neutral options from Sleek and Jerry Harvey and goes the Ultrasone route of fun, space, and speed. And it rocks.
Every month of every year, enterprising audio designers create new gadgets which achieve some paragon of aural nirvana. Jerry Harvey founded Ultimate Ears to support the rockers, Van Halen with products which would both protect their hearing and relate greater production value to their fans. For 1099$, the JH13Pro stands with a 50$ cheaper price tag than its older — and now estranged — brother, the Ultimate Ears UE11Pro, but lacks a few of its amenities. What it doesn’t lack, however, is beautiful sound.
INC have a great article detailing Jerry Harvey’s moves which changed the stage performance industry.