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7 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Custom In-Ear Monitors

If you’re thinking about a shift to Custom In-Ear Monitors (CIEMs) or are already immersed in the experience, gaining insights into the intricacies of this technology is crucial. Vlad Belonozhko from Bellos Audio, with over a decade of experience in the CIEM industry, delves into the seven most commonly asked questions about Custom IEMs, providing invaluable insight. 

1. What are the benefits of transitioning from Universal-Fit to Custom IEMs?

Deciding to switch from universal-fit to Custom In-Ear Monitors presents 3 compelling advantages. The first is undeniable comfort – CIEMs, crafted to match your unique ear shape, ensure a snug fit that remains constant, minimizing distractions during performances. The second benefit lies in the consistent sound experience they offer. With CIEMs in place, you can focus on your music, and while hearing everything you have fun exploring and refining your craft rather than just surviving through a set. Lastly, the enhanced isolation from stage volume allows for better control over your mix and enables listening at lower volumes, contributing to long-term hearing health benefits. For singers, the improved monitoring conditions also reduces vocal strain, because you’re not having to push your voice as hard to hear yourself.

2. How important is driver count in Custom IEMs?

When it comes to Custom IEMs, the number of drivers isn’t the sole indicator of superior sound quality. It’s essential to understand how the drivers are implemented and the supporting technologies at play. For instance, the absence of sound tubes in CIEMs contributes to a lot more clarity, because sound tubes are a bottleneck in the sound path. Another example is venting technologies which greatly expand the soundstage. Another big factor is the type of drivers being used. Balanced armature and dynamic drivers offer efficiency in different frequency ranges. Balanced armature drivers are more efficient in high and mid frequencies while dynamic drivers are much more efficient in the lower frequencies because they have a larger diaphragm. Ultimately, the way the Custom IEM sounds is the most important indicator. Listening to a demo unit or getting a recommendation from a trusted friend or fellow artist are some of the best ways to help in making an informed decision.

3. What Causes the Lengthy Manufacturing Process of Custom IEMs?

The prolonged duration required to manufacture conventional Custom IEMs stems from the inherent uniqueness of each order. Every set of CIEMs is tailored to the specific contours of an individual’s ear, akin to a fingerprint. Moreover, the extensive customization options, with some brands totaling over a million combinations (when you calculate all the design options), ensure that each product on the production line is different and needs special attention. This level of individualization demands experienced craftsmanship and a jeweler’s level of precision. Recent breakthroughs in 3D printing technologies are significantly enhancing efficiency in both manufacturing and repairing/servicing of Custom IEMs.

4. What to Do If My Custom IEMs Don’t Fit Properly?

Achieving the perfect fit with Custom IEMs is an intricate process due to the uniqueness of each individual’s ear shape. If discomfort arises with your first set of CIEMs, it’s important to ensure you’re putting them on correctly. Following the manufacturer’s instructions is key in this regard. A telltale sign of improper fit is a lack of lower frequencies and a thin sound. However, if you’ve followed the instructions correctly and still experience discomfort, allowing some time for your ears to adjust is recommended. Contacting the manufacturer and expressing any fit issues is essential, and there have been cases where discomfort diminishes after a couple of weeks of wear.

5. What’s the Average Lifespan of Custom IEMs?

Custom In-Ear Monitors typically have a lifespan of 3-5 years, depending upon factors such as frequency of use, environmental conditions, and the diligence of one’s cleaning routine. A notable indicator that your CIEMs might be approaching the end of their lifespan is when they’re not fitting well anymore and its effecting the sound quality. At this point, considering an upgrade to the latest generation of CIEMs is most likely a good idea, given the continual advancements in In-Ear Monitoring technology.

6. What’s an Effective Cleaning Routine for In-Ear Monitors?

The longevity and performance of Custom In-Ear Monitors are closely tied to a well-maintained cleaning routine. The choice of cleaning tools depends on the design of your CIEMs. For those with small sound ports, something like an IEM Vac proves highly beneficial, while larger ports are generally more resistant to earwax buildup and easier to clean. In environments where CIEMs are exposed to humidity or excessive perspiration during active performances, investing in a dehumidifier or something like an IEM Dryer is recommended. Regular use of a dryer helps prevent corrosion of internal components, ensuring sustained functionality over time.

7. Why is one ear in, one ear out bad for your ears when using In-Ear Monitors?

Some musicians adopt the practice of having one earpiece in and one earpiece out during performances. However, this seemingly innocuous approach can have unintended consequences on hearing health. Our ears are naturally designed for stereo perception (called binaural loudness summation), and removing one earpiece diminishes the perceived sound level by approximately 6db. Consequently, performers might unknowingly increase their mix volume to compensate, potentially leading to hearing damage over time. While it may not be harmful to have one ear out for audience interaction during quieter songs, it’s crucial to avoid adjusting the volume knob and return to using both In-Ear Monitors shortly after.

About Vlad Belonozhko

After more than a decade in the Custom IEM industry, Vlad Belonozhko envisioned creating a best-in-class Custom In-Ear Monitor product that addresses the 3 main drawbacks of Custom IEMs: fit & comfort issues, long build time, and costly service & repairs.

Bellos Audio’s latest offering is the X-Series Custom In-Ear Monitors with In-Air Canal technology. These Custom IEMs have virtually no fit issues and provide unparalleled comfortable – its like having nothing in your ears! Utilizing proprietary 3D Printing technology and a Removable Faceplate design, the CIEMs are manufactured and serviced in days, not weeks! Packed with industry-leading technologies such as ATOM Venting, RCX Connector, Modular Drivers, and a 2 Year Warranty – all at an affordable price.

Learn more about Bellos Audio at www.bellosaudio.com