In-Ear Monitors or IEMs are AirPods-like devices that musicians and audio engineers use to listen to music in the clearest form. They are mostly used on live performance stages where the musician requires sound that is clear and not disrupted by the loudness of the audience.
However, custom fit IEMs costs more than unitversal fit IEMs. So the question is:
Is it worth it?
Custom fit IEMs give you great noise isolation. That means that for performing musicians it is definitely worth it. Custom fit IEMs are also very comfortable to use for a longer duration. They also fit tightly in your ear canal, which means it won’t fall out easily when working out or other activities.
IEMs are also very helpful in sound mixing because they allow you to listen to each and every beat very clearly. This way, the musician or sound mixer can differentiate between what instruments produce what sounds and produce a nicely balanced track for the audience.
Generally, IEMs come in a universal casing, which tends to be very closely inserted in your ear to cancel all background noise. However, in doing so, universal IEMs can also be very uncomfortable to wear since they are not specifically designed for your ear shape.
Hence, in order to combat this issue, some companies have started making custom IEMs that allow for a much more relaxed experience with music.
What are Custom Fit IEMs?
As opposed to universal IEMs, custom fit IEMs are specially designed monitors that are made to cater to the shape of your ear. Custom-fit IEMs can be very comfortable because they fit exactly to the shape of your ear canal. This means no outside noise can leak in, and you can even lower the volume to your preference.
For example, say you are performing at a concert, and you want to hear yourself, but the audience is too loud, and the noise may overpower your own. If you have a universal IEM in this situation, some noise from the audience may leak in since the casing around your ear will not be an exact fit.
However, if it’s a custom IEM, then you’ll have total noise isolation and can listen to yourself peacefully.
In fact, through a custom IEM, you can also adjust the volume of your music without letting any outside noise bother you. This kind of IEM provides complete noise cancellation, which is why it has become the preferred on stage device for many musicians.
How are Custom Fit IEMs made?
Acquiring custom fit IEMs is not an easy task. Many musicians also have their reservations since the shape of an IEM can be constricting and limiting. Getting a custom fit IEM is also a commitment of sorts, which is why some musicians are averse to the idea. However, getting a custom fit IEM made is a long and arduous process.
Companies that offer to make custom fit IEMs measure the dimensions of your ear and then build a mold of the shape of your ear. The IEM is then customized to replicate the shape of your ear canal where the device would fit. Thus, the custom IEM essentially seals off your ear from external noise, which is how it maintains sound isolation.
Ordering a custom fit IEM can take anywhere from four to six weeks, and it can be more expensive as compared to a universal IEM. The process of ordering a custom fit IEM also requires more attention and demands more of your time. So, you have to be heavily involved in the process. However, since it’s usually a one-time investment, most people are willing to dedicate the time.
Who uses a Custom Fit IEM?
Custom fit IEMs are used by many different people. It’s not necessarily an on-stage device. This product can be used just as frequently by individuals doing mundane tasks every day. For example, these IEMs are excellent if you want to relax and listen to a song on your own. It’s also a fantastic device if you like to meditate.
A custom fit IEM provides you with enough noise isolation so you can get away from the world and focus on the task at hand. So, it is also used by students who wish to enhance their focus.
In addition, many people use it while traveling, mowing the lawn, or even during construction work. In fact, because of its incredible features, we’ve even heard stories that people use it to help them sleep.
So, all kinds of people are able to use custom fit IEMs.
Pros of a Custom Fit IEM
Some benefits of custom-fit IEMs have already been discussed above, but let’s look at some more. First of all, they are probably the best devices when it comes to noise cancellation. However, an added benefit is that they are personalized to your ear and, thus, your experience.
When you have custom fit IEMs, you can travel with them and use them as you please. You don’t have to rely on large headphones or anyone else for sound services.
A custom fit IEM allows you all the luxuries of a private portable studio, without the added hassle of larger equipment. Since the size of the device is so small, it can conveniently fit into your pockets or your purse.
Apart from this device being a great noise isolator, it also comes with amazing logistical and operational qualities. As compared to universal IEMs, a custom fit IEM is not likely to slip off your ear.
Since it is customized to fit your ear canal, this specific device will create a seal with your outer ear and stay put in place. This means you can rest assured that it will not move even as you dance or jump up and down.
In addition, a custom fit IEM is also very comfortable for the ear. It allows you to feel liberated, and you don’t have to worry about it hurting or irritating your ear canal. Most custom IEMs are itch proof, which means they will comfortably stay in their place without causing too much distraction and allow you to focus on your performance.
Finally, a custom IEM is rather easy to clean. Since the device is small and wireless, it does not require much time or effort in its cleaning. This way, you can make sure that your IEM is sanitary and ready to be used for several concerts at a time.
Cons of a Custom Fit IEM
Perhaps the only con of a custom fit IEM is the amount of time that it takes to order and receive one. Since it is such a laborious process, many people get disenchanted and don’t go ahead with it—however, those who do reap the full benefits of using this device.
Another issue that may arise is that of value. That is to say, custom fit IEMs may not be of the best value for your money if you’re buying IEMs for employees.
For example, if you frequently make music in the studio, then your employees or partners will not be able to use the custom fit IEM made for you. This makes it incredibly inconvenient and unnecessarily expensive to have custom fit IEMs.
Custom Fit IEM Pricing
Custom fit IEMs can be pricier than their universal fit counterparts. While universal fit IEMs may cost you between $300 and $700, custom devices can be double or even triple the price. Some of the best custom fit IEMs go up to $2000.
This is entirely because they are hand designed to perfection and are supposed to fit your ears to the last crevice.
Custom fit IEMs vary in their price. They can start from as low as $500 and may be priced differently for different models. Some models will be better than others, which means some will be more professional than others. Their price seems to be pretty justified considering how much work goes into making them.
Are Custom Fit IEMs Worth It?
To answer this question, one would have to look at the many factors that are listed in the article above. Generally speaking, they are worth it. Given the amount of effort and time put into making them, depending on your personal use of the device, and considering your budget, a custom fit IEM can definitely be worth it.
When choosing what kind of custom IEMs to get, you have to look at what factors you want to prioritize. For example, if you’re a professional artist and you have to perform on stage very frequently, you may have to get the most expensive version of the custom fit IEM, which will allow you to block out louder noises like concert audiences.
On the other hand, if you are someone who likes to have good noise isolation when sleeping, you may want to invest in less expensive versions of the device. Given the unlikelihood of having a concert in your room, you may not have to worry about too loud of a noise to block. So, in cases of domestic and personal use, the less expensive versions can be worth it.
Hence, whether the device is worth it entirely depends on what your use of the custom fit IEM is. And since it has price variations, we would say some version of the custom fit IEM can potentially be worth your time and money.